Loved one’s death dampens start of fall semester, teaches life lesson

As my senior year as a Shocker kicked off yesterday, all the excitement paled in comparison to the death that recently rocked my world.

As you have read here previously, at approximately 8 a.m. last Tuesday, Walter Cronkite was found dead in his bowl.

He was nearly 3 months old and a Shubunkin Goldfish.

An exact cause of death could not be determined due to the lack of an autopsy, but prior to his death, he was showing signs of the ICK/ICH, which is a disease experienced by fish.

Interment for Walter took place at approximately 9:30 a.m. that day by flushing him down the toilet in the handicap stall in the basement of Elliott Hall located at Wichita State University.

Walter was an avid swimmer who greatly enjoyed his goldfish flakes. His favorite pastime was starring at himself in the reflection of his 10-gallon fish tank.

He leaves behind numerous family members and three close friends that were his roommates in the tank — R. Rubi Plecostomus, Stephen G. Snail, and Scorpio the Scorpion.

“He was a great friend and will be dearly missed in the tank,” R. Rubi said. “Walter made the lives of everyone he met better, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to know his so very well.”

“He swam fast,” Stephen G. said. “I hope to move that fast one day, too. He was an inspiration.”

Memorial donations may be made to me via

With such a dreary start, some may worry about how the rest of my semester will go. After all, the superstitious person in all of us questions what certain events in our lives means.

I’m not worried though.

Yesterday was the start of the fall production cycle for The Sunflower News. We are already operating on the new paper format, pushing hard to cover every corner of the campus, and growing our online content and presence.

And this was just the first fall issue.

Walter died, but he inspired me to do all I can, just like he inspired Stephen G.

From him, I learned that no matter one’s environment, a person can be happy and successful. He was stuck in a glass world from which he could not escape. Yet he never complained or whine like some other types of fish might.

If he could be content having people stare at him and tap the glass of his home, then I should be happy with whatever life throws at me. I should take everything in stride.

This will come in handy as I lead The Sunflower News through this school year. By following this mentality, I won’t get down about missing a story or receiving negative feedback.

A missed story will simply be motivation to try harder next time, and negative feedback will be ignored because people only seem to comment when they have something bad to say.

Now I admit, when I first found Walter bobbing at the surface of the water, I was sad, but then the legacy he left behind became my inspiration.

I am glad I have that inspiration to work with, even though it does pain me to think about what Walter could have accomplished had he not passed away.

Walter was a good fish. I will miss him and try hard to make him proud.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at