“Wally was an ace of book scouts and a knowledgeable book dealer in the Miami area,” says Daniel Adams of Waverly Books in Santa Monica, California. “Somehow he managed over the years to locate only the finest possible copies of collectable titles, despite the daunting challenges the region posed.”
|Wally Gebhard at the 2011 Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.|
“If you attended the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair you probably spent a good bit of time in his booth,” says David Holloway, former member of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and now librarian in the U.S. Patent Office. “His books were always in remarkable condition. His interests were wide ranging, and his prices were gentle.”
Adams remembers him as an accomplished classical guitarist and a knowledgeable authority on Latin American literature. Holloway does, too.
“Wally was a true autodidact who studied Eastern religions formally, but taught himself to read French and Spanish and was a true connoisseur of Latin American literature — from back in the day when most people said ‘Gabriel Garcia who?’ ” Holloway says.
“Perhaps his greatest accomplishment was being a fully rounded human being, with a warmth of spirit he freely bestowed on those who were fortunate enough to know him,” Adams says. “Making a buck in the book business was the farthest thing from Wally's mind. His offerings at the St. Pete book fair were always a mix of whimsy and profundity. He immersed himself in the book trade because he relished the hunt, and the joy that comes with finding the elusive gem.”
Wally will be remembered for his good humor, his generosity in sharing knowledge and his delight in seeing his books find new homes with collectors or colleagues. He will be greatly missed. You are welcome to leave your recollections of W.B. (Wally) Gebhard below.