Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about.
Nearly every day for the last 28 years, beloved Burt Mann can be seen walking the streets of North Bend, talking to people he meets. Although at age 97, his treks have become shorter and slower, he still rarely misses a day. Because of these regular strolls, Burt has been affectionately dubbed “Walking Burt Mann” by community members.
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Burt on his walk. I met Burt in March when he was being honored as the City’s 2018 Citizen of the Year. Despite only having met him once, he greeted me with a smile that could light up a room, like a long-time friend would.
Burt’s life was full of hardships and turmoil from a young age. Despite his struggles, he always has a smile on his face and an uplifting story to share.
His walks lately take him through the new Park Street roundabout construction. He walks from Park Street to the Post Office and back three times. As we walked together, I asked him how he was navigating the construction. He told me it wasn’t as easy as usual, but he is managing just fine.
“I tell the workers to work hard and speed things up and they see me coming and call me the straw boss,” Burt said. “Back in the day, the foreman of a project would walk around with a piece of straw in his mouth, so his crew would call him the straw boss. That’s what they call me now,” he said with a laugh.
That day, I spent nearly 45 minutes with this kind and loving man. I informed him that the roundabout construction is nearing completion, much to his delight. He shared stories and words of wisdom that have inspired many. As I walked back to my car, I watched him pushing his walker toward the construction zone and told him to be safe and go carry out his charge as the straw boss. He smiled and waved as he continued on his stroll along North Bend Way.