Santa Walt passes away after life spent spreading joy, forgiveness

Walt “Santa Walt” Queen spent more than 15 years serving as Santa Claus in the Kentuckiana area.
Walt “Santa Walt” Queen spent more than 15 years serving as Santa Claus in the Kentuckiana area.(WAVE)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 10:49 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - His red coat and boots have been stowed away for the last time, as Walt “Santa Walt” Queen died early Wednesday morning at age 78 following a long battle with cancer.

On his professional Facebook page, Queen’s friend confirmed he died peacefully after fighting sarcoma and, more recently, a brain tumor.

“This is quite possibly the hardest post I will be making, but I wanted to let everyone who knew and loved Santa Walt know that he passed away peacefully early this morning,” Queen’s friend, who referred to herself as “Elf Whitney,” wrote. “We know that his pain and suffering is now over and he is smiling down from heaven!”

Queen delivered joy for more than a dozen years as Santa to Louisville area families. WAVE’s John Boel sat down with Queen during his last Christmas season in 2021, ill with cancer but still intent on being the jolly man in the red suit that children and adults alike have adored for so many years.

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Over the past 15 years, Santa Walt Queen has brought smiles to thousands of children, but now he faces one of his toughest battles.

“I’ve always hoped I was the ambassador of joy for the Lord,” Queen said. “My message to the kids is forgiveness. No one has done anything they can’t be forgiven for, but you have to acknowledge you’ve done something wrong.”

Queen’s daughters were killed in a crash in Louisville in 1989 when a truck driver hit a barrier, launching a load of unsecured cars into interstate traffic. They were only 18 and 20 years old.

Queen asked the judge to overturn the truck driver’s reckless homicide conviction during the trial, and the judge granted Queen’s wish.

“Today, my wife and I release you,” Queen said at the hearing. “We are not angry at you. We do not hate you. We forgive you.”

Before his death, loved ones created a GoFundMe page for Queen and his wife. To donate, click here.

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