The door to another piece of Fenton history has been closed. Walden’s Lounge, located on North LeRoy Street for more than 80 years, has been closed, likely permanently.
In 1934, Phyllis (Lunt) Walden and her husband Malvin J. Walden purchased the Cobblestone Tavern on North LeRoy and renovated it. After a fire in 1964, the bar was rebuilt and named Walden’s Lounge. Her husband died in 1972.
Phyllis Walden was born in Lancaster, England and came to this country in 1911 with her family aboard the RMS
Lusitania. Four years later, it was sunk by German submarines.
She proudly displayed the small high-button shoes she wore when arriving at Ellis Island. She donated money for the restoration of the island and the Statue of Liberty.
Fentonites remember Phyllis as a friendly, caring and hardworking woman, who was proud to be an American.
Phyllis died at her North LeRoy Street residence on Dec. 21, 2002 at the age of 96, after a lingering illness. Funeral services were held that Christmas Eve and she now rests in Fenton’s Oakwood Cemetery.
The bar, which has one of the oldest liquor licenses in the state, was until recently owned and operated by her two sons, Malvin E. Walden, known to family and friends as “Babe,” who died in April of 2013 at the age of 69. Duane, affectionately known as “Fuzzy,” died June 22 of this year at the age of 76.
The Walden family was instrumental in raising funds for the American Cancer Society at their bar, including an annual auction in more recent years. Items for the auction were generously donated by local businesses and individuals.
Walden’s first started collecting funds for ACS in February of 1958 when bars throughout Genesee County competed to see which one could collect the largest amount. There was a traveling trophy which was engraved with the winner’s name. Walden’s received it for several years.
When the competition ended, Walden’s continued to collect money from customers during February, eventually adding the “fun” and profitable auction.
Babe Walden was born in his parents’ home, behind Walden’s Lounge. Until the day he died in 2003, the lounge was a part of his family and legacy. He loved Walden’s Lounge, but mostly loved the people and the conversation he found within it.
The lounge opened just after prohibition and was his father’s, but it legally belonged to Babe and his brother, Duane “Fuzzy” Walden since 1972.
Babe Walden served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He graduated from Fenton High School in 1962 and described his teenage years as the best ones of his life due to his lack of responsibility. The only thing he had was a car and the only worry he had was how to get gas in it.
In a previous interview with the Tri-County Times, Babe Walden was asked what the one thing he learned from life was. His answer — “Never take anything for granted.”
Babe and his brother Fuzzy Walden were known for their kindness, generosity and sense of humor.
Walden’s Lounge has been a staple for locals looking for good drinks and great food. It has been said by many that they had the “best sandwiches” around.
Fuzzy, too, served in the U.S. Army in Germany as occupation force, guarding Hess Prison in Berlin. He loved garage sales and auctions and enjoyed spending time up north hunting, fishing and being outdoors.
Friends and family shared their remembrances after Fuzzy’s death. One said, “Whenever I asked Fuzzy how he was doing, he always responded with ‘I don’t know cuz nobody told me yet.’”
Sadly, Babe Walden’s son, Malvin W. Walden, died unexpectedly Sunday, Aug. 5 at the age of 43. After his Thursday, Aug. 9 funeral service, he, too, rests in Fenton’s Oakwood Cemetery.
The circumstances surrounding the closing of Walden’s Lounge are a private family matter.