Walter (Walt) was born December 18, 1933, in Perryville, Maryland, and died of cancer on April 28, 2021, at his home in Hendersonville, North Carolina amidst loving family.
He grew up in a variety of places, with his parents and his siblings, brother Henry and sister Anne. He was a scholar-athlete who loved playing football, baseball, basketball, and golf while still finding time for his studies, most notably mathematics and history where he truly excelled.
He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Maryland in 1955. It was there that he met Julie on February 17, 1955. He quickly realized she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and she didn’t hesitate to say “yes!” when he proposed shortly after that. They were married August 19, 1955, and in a little over five years they had four children – Michael, Lisa, Charles (Chuck), and Richard.
After graduation, Walt worked as an accountant until 1957, when he found his second love, computers. He started his computer career at Springs Cotton Mills in Lancaster, South Carolina, and then joined IBM in 1961. He was valued for his brilliance, diligence, ethics, and imagination. He was one of the fathers of airline reservation systems, a pioneer in the field of large-scale computing. IBM sent him all over the country to work his magic, then later around the world. He made numerous trips overseas to Asia and Europe, where he served the clients’ needs by custom designing computer systems for their specific applications. He retired after 30 years with the company.
Shortly after retiring, Walt and Julie moved to Wildwood, Florida to be near her beloved sister, Fonda and brother-in-law Brent Fry. They used Wildwood as a jumping-off place to start their travels in the early summer of 1991 and enjoyed a number of adventures, driving from Florida to Maine to California and Canada, and many points in between. Their favorite places to visit included Yosemite, California; Crater Lake, Oregon; Mount Rushmore, South Dakota; Jasper and Banff, Alberta, Canada. It was during their travels that they discovered Hendersonville, North Carolina. There they found a mountain home with a view which they purchased in October 2000 and then made their own, hosting frequent family get-togethers. They were also regulars at the Hendersonville Bridge Center where they played and taught the game. He was a gifted and enthusiastic bridge teacher, in both the classroom and private lesson settings. In 2015, they realized that living on a mountain presented a variety of challenges they were no longer ready to face, so they moved to the beautiful community of The Willows near downtown Hendersonville.
Walter was an avid golfer, bowler, and fisherman. He ran the IBM slow pitch softball team, and captained that team to the national finals in Detroit. But he loved bridge most of all. He and Julie were avid bridge competitors, and were regular tournament attendees since 1971. They became Diamond Life Masters with some memorable wins along the way, most notably a national team championship in 2005.
Walt loved old movies (especially Westerns, which appealed to his strong sense of morality and decency), TV crime dramas, and the music of Mozart and Karen Carpenter. He also loved good books, especially stories of intrigue and mystery. He was an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves.
He was the kind of man who was always there when needed. He always knew what was needed, whether it was a helping hand for a struggling student or comforting his daughter after an embarrassing faux pas (one that involved putting liquid Joy in the dishwasher with disastrous consequences) by taking her out for ice cream and regaling her with stories of his own youthful misadventures ‘til she laughed and forgot her own.
Though busy with work and other pursuits, Walt always had time for his family. From staying up all night Christmas Eve to wrap the countless presents and waiting until everyone was asleep so he could hide in excess of four dozen Easter Eggs for the next morning’s hunt, to teaching various skills – riding a bike, the proper way to catch a baseball, etc – to coaching his sons’ baseball and softball teams, he was there.
He was an excellent chess player and taught his 8-year-old son Richard how to play. He would encourage interest by removing key pieces from his side to level the playing field. They played countless games, until his student became good enough to play competitively with a full board. He encouraged Richard to play on the school chess team and loved to review the play-by-play afterward to coach some more.
Walt was not an extrovert, nor did he do anything designed to attract attention to himself, yet somehow, he always ended up leading the groups he was involved in and was often sought out for his counsel.
Walt is survived by Julie, his beloved wife; his sister Anne and her husband Bob Byers; his children Michael and girlfriend Terri; Lisa and husband Pat; Richard and wife Irene; daughter-in-law Rebecca, widow of son Chuck; and his ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother Henry and his son Chuck.
He was loved and admired by his family and a host of friends.
May you always walk in sunshine
and God’s love around you flow,
your goodness was abounding,
that we’ll always know.
There will be no services at this time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to:
Four Seasons Hospice
571 South Allen Road
Flat Rock, NC 28731
Their loving support of Walt and his family was vital in easing his passage.