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Walter Edward Cuchine of Eureka passed away unexpected Thursday, September 15, 2022, at his home of thirty years. He was 75 years old.
Wally was born in Bozeman, Montana on September 2, 1947, the second of three children, to Merle Jean Seaman Cuchine and Charles “Charlie” Walter Cuchine. Wally lived with his parents and siblings Glen James and Mona Jean in Clancy, Montana and then East Helena, Montana. Throughout his childhood, Wally made extended and cherished visits to his grandparents’ homes in Bozeman and Clancy. He attended East Helena Elementary School through 8th grade and graduated from Helena High School in June 1966. Joining the Air Force following graduation, he served for 4 four years, including 2 years in Puerto Rico, where he collected his first pieces of art.
Following his honorable discharge, Wally returned to Montana, and in September 1970 visited Reno to see close friends from Montana, Bob and Margaret Montgomery. He fell in love with Nevada and especially rural Nevada, and shortly moved from Montana permanently. He first lived with the Montgomerys in Reno, and later moved to Fernley for several years and continued to explore the state.
In 1975, Wally enrolled at Sierra Nevada University in Incline Village, near Lake Tahoe. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and began a wide-ranging career in the arts and humanities. Wally lived and worked in Fallon, Winnemucca, Elko, Lovelock, Caliente, Hawthorn, and Eureka. In 1987 he settled in Ely for 6 years and worked at the White Pine Public Museum. In 1993, Wally landed his dream job: Director of the Eureka Opera House. He quickly moved back in Eureka, and made the Opera House the epicenter of humanities and performing arts in northeastern Nevada. Wally was recognized as a Distinguished Nevadan in 2007 for his tireless work in Nevada arts and humanities. He retired from the Opera House in 2011 and remained in his beloved Eureka for the remainder of his life.
His mother Merle and sister Mona attended his college graduation in 1979, and over the next decade Merle visited regularly and they vacationed together across Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico. Nephew Andrew Mayer made a the first of many memorable trips in October 1981, where he stayed with Wally in his Airstream travel trailer in Eureka, and they visited hot springs, explored graveyards, climbed Sand Mountain, went to galleries, chased lizards in the desert, and in general had a wonderful time.
For Wally, friends WERE family, and he had hundreds of friends in all corners of the state and maintained a close connection regardless of time or distance. While only Wally could recognize all of his friends in this space, a few are pivotal. First, Margaret Montgomery and her late husband Bob of Reno, who introduced Wally to Nevada and were devoted friends for most of his life; Jim McCormick and Loretta Terlizzi of Reno, who encouraged his collecting, and who Wally credited with the transformation into a fine arts collection; and Gary and Mime Link of Eureka, who were close friends in Eureka and shared meals, love of art, and many cups of tea.
Wally’s passion, purpose, and what he sometimes called his “addiction” was art. Anyone who spent a few minutes with him quickly realized that he lived and breathed art, and specifically Nevada art. Over the course of 52 years, Wally amassed one of the largest private collections of Nevada art in the state, and endlessly promoted the arts and humanities through numerous organizations, including the Nevada Arts Council and his work as Director of the Eureka Opera House. He endlessly encouraged, nurtured, advocated for, and most importantly bought art from established and developing Nevada artists. Important parts of Wally’s collection have been featured in exhibitions across the state for more than a decade, and prior to his death Wally donated the 160-piece Cuchine Collection to the Ely Art Bank.
Wally was preceded in death by beloved grandmothers Mary Elizabeth “Mame” Holloway and Marvel Beatrice Seaman; Grandfather Glen B. Seaman and step-grandfathers Harry Mann and Hedley John “Hap” Holloway; parents Merle St. Claire and Charlie Cuchine; sister Mona Mayer, niece Betsy Jean Ann Mayer, and sister-in-law Sharon Marie Robinson Cuchine. On his sister Mona’s side, Wally is survived by his brother-in-law George Waldemar Mayer of Helena; nephew Andrew Charles Mayer of San Francisco; and great-nephews Jessiah of Portland, OR, and Harrison of Helena.
On his brother’s side, Wally is survived by brother Glen Cuchine and husband Tom of Boise; niece Catherine “Catie” Marie Cuchine Cloninger of Helena, husband Mike Cloninger and daughters Marelee and Madelyn; and niece Kerry Ann Cuchine Bolmeier of Bozeman, husband Mike Bolmeier, and their daughters Piper and Paige. Wally is also survived by Cousin Wendy Cuchine of Subic Bay, Philippines, husband Michael Cruz and daughter Yshtola. Discovering a Cuchine family brand in the Philippines greatly pleased Wally, and he was in regular contact with Wendy and her family. Finally, Wally is survived by countless friends in every corner of Nevada, and around the world. He will be sorely missed.
A celebration of life will take place following cremation, Sunday, October 9 at 1:30 pm, at the Eureka Opera House with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Nevada Arts Council
716 N. Carson St., Ste A Carson City, NV 89701
Eureka Senior Center
PO Box 278 Eureka, NV 89316
Please visit the links below for brief video of Wally and his collection in his own words, and to offer his loved ones a condolence or share a memory of Wally.
Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQuIZ7L5SHE