Deceased February 6, 2010
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Walt died peacefully at his home in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 6, at age 86. He was surrounded by his children, Janis, Tom and Sam; and his beloved companion, Donna Benson. Walter’s first wife, Betty, passed away in 2007. She was with him at Amherst’s “G.I.Village” in 1946-47.
A New York native, Walt was involved in many humanitarian causes. His first job as a volunteer was as a freshman at Amherst, when he was asked to help out with a retarded boy. He was the proud co-founder of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and a big brother to two wonderful little brothers. Walt volunteered at St. John’sHealthCenter and UCLAMedicalCenter, as well serving the boards of BB/BS of America, UCLA’s Center for Aging and the Executive Service Corp. His motto: “You always get back more than you give.”
At Amherst, Walt directed “The Veteran Speaks” radio series on WHYN. The current-event panelists included undergraduates and faculty. He loved jazz and playing drums and some piano in the Catsnjammers at Amherst.
In 1947, he joined WHOB, Gardner, where he broadcast Holy Cross basketball, with future Celtics stars Tom Heinsohn and Bob Cousy. Walt saw opportunity in TV, with Ziv and then as the founding president of ITC. He later joined acclaimed documentary company Wolper Productions. “That was really the high point. It was quality programming.”
Walt’s greatest treasures were people, his family and friends. He listened to what others said and what they meant. Visiting 15 countries, he absorbed and respected the variety of cultures. The close friends he made at Amherst were of greater value to Walt than the fine education he received. As his friends passed away, he missed them greatly. As we miss him now.
Sam Kingsley ’70