[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter from Rachel Lynch of Sherman about her uncle, Wallie Jahn of New Milford, who died July 19 at the age of 58].

When I think of my uncle, one word comes to mind -- passionate.

Wallie Jahn was a man of many interests and talents. However, his passion for running and communithy outreach is what defined him.

Some of my best memories with my uncle were spent at his store, Road 'n Track Sports, located on the Green in New Milford.

I was proud of him, and always proud to say my uncle owned that business.

I was always told how fantastic he was in helping those who shared his love of running to find the perfect athletic apparel to maximize their performance or just find comfort in the bodily wear and tear of athletics.

Put simply, Wallie cared.

He cared about his customers, his family and the New Milford community.

From a young age, I was taught by him to be a driven and compassionate individual. He always led by example.

I have always known my uncle to be an honest and giving man. For example, he would let his customers try on shoes and go for a walk/run around the Green before buying the shoes.

He did this to ensure the customers were happy with their purchase.

I am hard pressed to think of any business which would allow customers to leave with a product before paying.

That was just the kind of guy he was, trusting and good natured.

I loved that about him.

I recall when I was growing up, Wallie provided the homeless with shoes and clothing whenever he had the chance. He felt proper, comfortable shoes could change anyone's life, and everyone deserved to be comfortable.

I remember Wallie dedicating a lot of his time to developing local athletes attending New Milford High School. It was his mission to promote health and appreciation for fitness.

I always looked up to him and admired how the people who knew him, or shopped in his store, appreciated his service and kindness.

My uncle was a man of daily smiles and would stop short of nothing to get a laugh or a smile.

It didn't matter if you were a passerby on the sidewalk or a longtime friend who just popped in to say hello. You were greeted with a firm handshake and a genuine "how are you today?"

Wallie wanted to be your friend. He always put a positive outlook on things. His upbeat personality and joy for life is something I will miss greatly.

Wallie was a beloved brother, uncle and friend. He always tried to better me from the inside out. I will be forever grateful the wonderful man he was to me and my family.

Rachel Lynch