She wonders, nearly 10 years later, if people still think of him. Not from the headlines they read or the newscasts they watched.
She wonders, nearly 10 years later, if people still think of him.
Not from the headlines they read or the newscasts they watched. But when they saw him at the grocery store, or on his regular runs. The everyday moments. The little ones.
“Those, to me, are indelible,” Amy Wales said the other day.
Of course they are, when you consider the aberrant way her father, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Wales, left this world.
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He was gunned down at age 49. Shot to death while sitting at the computer in the basement of his Queen Anne Hill home on Oct. 11, 2001.
The FBI searched the Bellevue home of a man suspected in the killing but never charged him or anyone else. The U.S. Justice Department is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. And during a visit to Seattle in 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the Wales slaying “continues to be a priority case.”
The Thomas C. Wales Foundation, established soon after his death, honors and encourages civic engagement. Washington CeaseFire, the nonprofit that pushes gun-safety laws, and which Wales headed for seven years, continues its work.
Beyond that, there’s been little to settle Amy Wales’ heart — until this week, when she sat on a bench and took in the bird song and the view at the new Thomas C. Wales Park.
The park, a Pro Parks Levy-funded project set into 1.3 acres of the east slope of Queen Anne, opened in October and will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Saturday with speeches and such, for which Amy Wales, 31, is grateful.
But her father would have waved off the fuss.
“He would have been his characteristic modest self,” she said, “saying that people made a mistake and the park should be named for someone not him, because his life was a comedy of errors. That was his way.”
How Amy Wales has found her own way in the time since her father’s death is as stunning as the Cascades in the distance.
She lived through a period of intense anger that has subsided into a certain kind of peace; “a measured approach to things,” is how she put it.
She is working as a communications manager at the international health nonprofit PATH and planning a September wedding. Her brother, Thomas Wales VII, is an analyst and editor at Oxford Analytica, a foreign-policy think tank in England. Despite the distance, the siblings remain close, and constants in each other’s lives.
“My life has steadied,” Wales said of the time that has passed. “I have a great job, I love my husband-to-be, and there is such joy in every day.”
And now there is this park, not officially dedicated, but already named one of Sunset magazine’s “Top 10 Urban Parks.”
“I hope it’s woven into people’s everyday,” she said. “That it’s a stop on their way and it gives them that moment of peace and reflection.”
I ask how she has found peace with the fact that her father’s killer is free; her answer sounds like a pledge she recites to keep from screaming:
“The case is ongoing,” she said, “and we speak with the investigators every now and then.”
What else can she say or do? Only what her father would want her to, whenever she moves into “the dark spot of anger” over the loss, the missing, the waiting for the very justice that Thomas Wales made his life’s work.
“My father would tell me to be happy and find peace,” she said. “And he would encourage us to have faith in the system he believed in. And I say that with absolute certainty.”
We sit. We gaze. We listen to the bird song.
“But 10 years is a long time.”
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bring a Frisbee.