Wally Pacholka was an accountant by day, but it's his moonlighting "job" where he's always shined. He's aglow in winning national awards for his pictures, lofty kudos for being in the right place in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night.
The 57-year-old Long Beach resident left accounting three years ago and now focuses full time on his passion — sayonara book ledgers and hello rocky ledges, the kind on which he can mount his camera tripod and await the majesty of the heavens.
His current project is blazing around the West's bevy of beautiful national parks for some late-night sky collaborations with the stars. He's done the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Arches and others. Next up are Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Pacholka is a three-time "Picture of the Year" winner for Time and Life magazines' end-of-year photograph editions. Both magazines honored him in 2003 for shots he took when Mars made its closest pass to Earth in almost 60,000 years, and Time also tabbed him in 1997 for a picture he took of Comet Hale-Bopp above Joshua Tree National Park.
"I feel like I'm on a life's purpose," says Pacholka.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the snow on the mountain's rim,
I am the laughter in children's eyes,
I am the sand at the water's edge,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn rain,
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the star that shines at night,
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
John, we will miss you.
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