After years of kindness, 'Waving Man' Jack Foland honored by Overland Park neighborhood

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The sidewalks through the Winfield Estates neighborhood in south Overland Park are missing their most loyal visitor. Twice a day for the last 15 years, 89-year-old Jack Foland would walk two miles, but it wasn't for the exercise.

"He just loved meeting people," said Mary Foland, his wife of 68 years. "He always wanted to be around people."

With every walk, he took his bright orange hat and contagious spirit of random kindness.

"He was just friendly to people, and so he'd always wave," Mary said. "When the cars went by, he waved."

It wasn't long before Foland picked-up the nickname "The Waving Man".

Even the neighborhood dogs grew fond him.

"He had his pockets full of biscuits," Mary said. "Lots of dogs knew that in those pockets were biscuits, and they'd try and get in the pockets."

Seeing The Waving Man became routine for the hundreds of homes in the area, but in March, things changed.

"The driveway got real icy, and he didn't take the right precautions," Mary said. "He slipped and hit his head. He cut his head."

At the hospital, doctors found cancer in Foland's liver.

"He wanted to live to his 90th birthday, which was May the 12th," Mary said. "But he died April 23rd. Sometimes I wonder what he's doing today? But then I remember he's not here."

As the news of his death spread through the neighborhood, so did plans of building a memorial.

Lynn Schaefer and Betty Decker live along the path Foland use to walk, and on Saturday they stood out on the corner wearing orange hats to take donations.

Their goal was to raise $165. Six hours later they had more than $1,400.

"We had a gentleman in a motorized wheelchair with his dog, and he said 'I don't have any money on me, but I'll be back,'" Schaefer said. "He came back in his truck, with a $100 check."

The money will help build a park bench with an engraved plaque that will soon sit in front of the neighborhood pond.

"He made our neighborhood a community, and so now we want to come together for him," Schaefer said. "People can stop and rest here and think of Jack."

Foland leaves behind three kids, six grandkids and seven great-grandkids. The youngest is named Jack.

Stanley Elementary School is right next to his neighborhood, and Foland's family says the fifth grade class is also planning to build a memorial for The Waving Man.

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