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Walter John Ciesienski

Jan 13, 2021

Walter John Ciesienski, aged 70, passed away peacefully at Hope Hospice in Fort Myers, Florida on January 5, 2021. He was born in Newark, New Jersey on August 17, 1950.

Walter is survived by his only child, a beloved daughter, Anya Alyssa Ciesienski, her mother, Jan Greider Rees; his favorite cousin Christine Brown of Pennsylvania; and his cherished friends and customers. He was predeceased by his parents, John and Josephine Ciesienski; brother, Lenny; and his grand-dog, Kale, his best buddy.

Walter graduated from Hillside High School, New Jersey in 1968.

Walter was known as “Whitey” by his childhood friends and Army buddies. He served in Vietnam from May 1971 to February 1972. While he was there, he was awarded two Bronze Star Medals for meritorious achievement.

After Walter was discharged from the U.S. Army, he went home to Hillside, New Jersey to work at Engelhardt Industries. His lifelong friend, Barry Herbst convinced him to take a vacation on an island in Florida. When he arrived on Sanibel, he fell in love with the “intriguing island” and decided to make the move in 1974, a year later.

On Sanibel, Walter found work at the Periwinkle Trailer Park. In 1976 he became friends with George Kneram and Kim Billheimer. The friendship with George developed into a business partnership with the establishment of Earth Care Inc. in 1978 on Sanibel Island.

He met and married Jan Greider Rees in 1979 and his only child, Anya, was born on July 6th 1982. Anya and her dad were very close. She took care of him and his needs for the last months since his diagnosis in September.

Walter had been an avid fan of the New York Yankees and Giants since childhood. His beloved Yankees were an obsession and he had a ritual he performed before every big game.

The family and friends will host a Celebration of Life on the Sanibel Causeway at a later date, when it is safe to gather.

In the meantime, if you are moved to honor him, please feel free to donate in his name to Pits for Patriots (pitsforpatriots.org) an organization that trains and pairs shelter dogs with disabled veterans.