All of the tributes that have poured in following Paul Walker's untimely death have same the underlying message, that the actor was a humble man naturally inclined to do good.
One Los Angeles-area couple came forward yesterday with a story about how much Walker also valued love.
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In 2004, now-married couple Kyle and Kristen Upham were shopping for an engagement ring in a Santa Barbara jewelry store, just before Kyle left for a second tour of duty in Iraq. At the time, Walker was known for his roles in the super popular Fast and the Furious series, and was also browsing in the store.
As the Uphams debated over a $9,000 engagement ring, Kyle chatted up Walker, telling him about his tour in Iraq.
"And when he found out Kyle just came back from Iraq—I remember seeing the look in his face," Kristen told CBS Los Angeles. "He kind of transformed."
Something about Kyle's military service must have struck a chord with Walker, because after the couple eventually left the store without the $9,000 ring, a saleswoman called them and told them to come back.
"One of the ladies came out holding a bag and just said, 'Here's your ring.' I think both of our mouths dropped," Kristen said.
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The Uphams thought at first that someone who worked at the shop had done them a favor, but they later realized it must have been Walker's doing. It wasn't until store employee Irene King shared a story on on CBS Los Angeles that their suspicions were confirmed.
Just before the Uphams had left the store empty handed, "He called the manager and he said, 'Umm, the ring that those people are looking at—put it on my tab,'" King said. "Soon after that, he just left."
When the couple asked whom to thank, the store said it was an anonymous gift. King and the rest of the staff respected his wishes and kept the secret for more than a decade. But with Walker's death, they want the world to know of his generosity.
Nine years later, Kristen Upham agrees. "His real life speaks volumes of his character," she said. "He really did put his money where his mouth is and did good for this world."
The story adds an unbelievably bittersweet twist to Walker's passing, which happened in a car accident on Saturday during a charity event he was hosting. Though his family and friends miss him, his giving nature will live on. That it does so in the form of an engagement ring is a testament to the power of love.
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