Walter Beerle at Union Bank = George Bailey in Bedford Falls

The original cast: George Bailey at the Savings & Loan in Bedford Falls, as portrayed by Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” probably the most acclaimed movie of all time that’s been running all over television every Christmas since it was produced in 1946.

The current and equivalent cast: Walter Beerle as manager of Union Bank at the corner of 15th St. and Camino Del Mar in the heart of the Del Mar Village.

It can be almost impossible to tell George and Walter apart, their manner and way of doing business and relating to people are so much alike. Hence this translation from a longtime appreciator of both.

If you don’t know Walter, and what he has meant to Del Mar, you should as he has been a unique and now-rare experience that you’ve missed, because at the end of this month he’ll be retiring after 17 years as George Bailey in Del Mar.

For me the experience began the day I went to Union Bank to create an account through the usual channels, which always begins with the person assigned to that function. But I couldn’t help but see Walter sitting at his wide-open desk very nearby and people walking right up to it and sitting down to talk to him in an obviously informal and friendly manner. Totally unlike any bank I ever did business with before, especially in Los Angeles where it was various branches of the Bank of America. Del Mar isn’t Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter; still, what I perceived about Walter’s relationships with what surely were bank account holders impressed me tremendously.

And it wasn’t long until I was doing the same thing with him, which, given my long experience in marketing and advertising, prompted me to offer my help to the Del Mar Village Merchants’ Association of which he has been the longtime president, as well as my thoughts regarding Union Bank in Bedford Falls...excuse me, in Del Mar. As I said, it’s hard to keep Walter and George apart in my thinking.

And then I was stunned to learn that Walter would be retiring at the end of this month, so I almost immediately stopped by to talk with him as he sat there at his desk working on his computer. We had a long visit during which the comparison between Walter in Del Mar and George in Beford Falls occurred to me. And hence this tribute, which I decided should appear in the Del Mar Times.

So thank you, Walter. For all who knew you and related to you, you will always be the standard bearer for Del Mar business relationships.

A wise old owl once told me, “There is a time for putting in and a time for taking out.”

The time for taking out all that you’ve put in here in Del Mar is at hand, my friend, so live it all to the hilt!

Jim Donovan

Del Mar