The far too short, way too wonderful life of Wade Halterman

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Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:12 PM CST
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WINK, Texas (KOSA) - It can be easy to boil someone down to their physical accomplishments. Especially someone like Wade Halterman, who spent years dominating the hearts and minds of wink sports fans.

“We knew young that he was going to be a very special weapon,” his mother Courtney Orr said.

Halterman died on Sunday, Nov. 7, in a car accident near Sweetwater. He was 20 years old.

“Somebody rang the doorbell, and [Wade’s sister] got up to answer it,” Courtney said. “As soon as she opened the door, she saw two state troopers, and she turned around and said, ‘It’s the cops!’ And I knew then.”

But what Wade’s family could not have known was the magnitude of Wade’s impact on those he met. As the hours passed that Sunday, the calls flooded in from friends, strangers, and media, and the legacy of the man known as “Golden Boy” began to take shape.

Most of Wade’s childhood was spent in Kermit. He was 10-years old when he acquired the nickname “Golden Boy,” which followed him for the rest of his life.

“His nickname was Golden Boy because of the way his skin and his hair changed in the summer, but when it came down to it, Wade was golden in all aspects of life,” said sister Cambry Sanchez.

That gold shined brightest when he moved to Wink for high school.

“He’s 6′05″. He’s not a small boy,” said friend Delanie Rackler. “But he had a way of making everyone feel big.”

But being big doesn’t always mean growing up. Wade had a few great loves in life: Wink, fishing, his scooter, and most importantly, his nieces.

You won’t find any self-centered social media posts touting his accomplishments. Wade was all about others.

“I like to say he was the definition of the Wildcat Way,” Cambry said.

At his job at Tractor Supply in Denton, he would work holidays, so employees with young children could stay home.

When his girlfriend was diagnosed with leukemia and couldn’t go to prom, he brought prom to her.

When his younger sister was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, Wade drove to San Antonio regularly to be with her…as the resident barbie fixer.

He’d even do things that were out of the ordinary.

“There was one track meet where he decided to do facials with us,” Delanie said. “So, he had all the green stuff all on his face.”

It’s that attitude and the light he carried that made him so beloved around Wink.

“He was the guy to talk to if you weren’t having a good day,” said Head Football Coach Brian Gibson. “He was the guy to talk to when things were going hard for you because he was going to tell you a corny joke. He was going to let you know that the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”

But for the Golden Boy, there are no more sunrises. Yet, inexplicably, his light and his warmth seem more alive than ever. So, maybe Golden Boy now has another meaning, one that will never set.

“I think Wade’s mission was to shed some light and to teach people how to be good,” Cambry said. “And I think his mission was complete.”

In the days following his death, it was no surprise that Wink and it’s 824 residents honored Wade with a memorial at Wildcat Field. For all he’d done for them, it was the least they could do. They carried the Golden Boy into the endzone one last time, much like he had always carried them.

“He truly had a heart of gold and lived out a golden life,” Delanie said.

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