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Hidden Heroes
Retiree not ‘vein’ about donating blood
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Wally Edington displays some of his past license plates. He recently attached one to his car that designates him as a 61-gallon blood donor.
PINELLAS PARK – Some people talk about having to pay for 61 gallons of gas for their vehicle. Wally Edington, however, boasts about the 61 gallons of blood he’s donated over the years.

The retired government worker at age 85 recently was presented with a license plate designating his achievement.

Mayor Bill Mischler a few years ago presented a 55-gallon drum inscribed with Edington’s blood donations at that time.

“I kept it on my front porch until it started rusting,” Edington said. “It has been moved to St. Petersburg.”

Edington worked for various agencies over his 33 years of government service. Based mostly in the Washington, D.C. area, he eventually was transferred to Miami. In the late 1970s while working for the Small Business Administration, he helped restore the area to some normalcy after a major storm.

“I began donating blood during World War II,” Edington said. “While stationed in North Africa, we’d sell it for $25 a pint for drinking money.”

The Mainlands resident said he continued to donate platelets every six weeks, then later to every eight weeks and now every two weeks.

“I do it to help people,” Edington said.

He started collecting license plates from Florida Blood Services when he reached 45 gallons. The numbered plates added up over the years until he reached his present 61-gallon accomplishment.

He’s always believed in community service.

“I delivered Meals On Wheels for 15 years,” he said. “I was involved in various community organizations, such as the chamber of commerce.”

His wife of 28 years, Sue, lives at a local nursing home after suffering two strokes.

“I stay with her at the home each and every night,” Edington said. “I’ve been doing that for five years.”

The couple have two adult children.

Still very active, Edington enjoys singing, dancing and the Internet.

“We use to travel a lot,” Edington said. “We stayed away from cruises, though, because my wife would get sea sick at a pier.”
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