If you’re anything like me, a child of the 1980s and a bit of a Gen Xer, you might have spent a few hours in the early afternoon on weekdays watching cartoons after school. Or maybe you caught them on Saturday morning. Or, if you were anything like me, you did both and watched every chance you got.
If you watched enough animation, there’s a very good chance that you saw something that Wally Burr worked on, either by directing the vocal cast or lending his own voice to the production. He’s probably best known for being the voice director on The Transformers and GI Joe.
I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Burr at BotCon 2004. It was also at that same convention where he directed me a bit for a voice contest. I still have the whip marks on my back to prove it. (I kid about that one, but only a little! Though I and a few of the others who didn’t make the cut did half-jokingly threaten to rush Wally and demand to know why we weren’t good enough.) I was able to see him again in 2005 and in 2013; during that last BotCon in 2013, Mr. Burr asked where I lived. I told him Wisconsin. He told me that he learned how to boat up here, in my area, in my home state. I was utterly shocked when he told me.
Now, I think about that moment with a mixture of nostalgia and sadness. I’ve been fighting the urge to cry for the entirety of the day. This man and what he did was an integral part of my childhood. The Transformers, GI Joe, they have a special place in my heart. The shows were a part of the tapestry of my childhood, a ray of sunshine that I desperately needed. His work helped to shape me into who I am now.
Did he know how much it meant to me, to the rest of the fandom? Did he know how much we appreciated what he did? How much his work mean to each and every one of us? I’d like to think so. But even now, I’ll say it again because it needs to be said.
Thank you, Wally Burr, for all you’ve done. Thank you for your work on Transformers and giving us a great show and great memories. Thank you, a thousand times, thank you, for every thing you did. We appreciated it. We’ll always appreciate it. And we’ll miss you. The world is a sadder, dimmer, lonelier place without you in it.