LTC Ronald Lee Walter USA (Retired)
Cadet Company: K1
Date of Birth: April 7, 1943
Date of Death: June 2, 2015
Died in Scottsdale, AZ
Interred: St. Francis Cemetery, Phoenix, AZ - View or Post a Eulogy
Ronald Lee Walter was born in Laurel, MD on April 7, 1943 to Edgar and Inez Walter. He grew up in San Bernardino, CA, where he worked in his parent's upholstery shop from the time he was eight years old.
For more than 54 years, Ron was my best friend. We formed an immediate bond when we faced the daunting task of surviving the grueling regimen of 47 months at the United States Military Academy together, two scared kids from Southern California quickly turning into young men. Early in our friendship, Ron, who I always considered my intellectual superior, took to calling me 'Chops.' While I never completely understood why, I was always comfortable with our practice of calling each other by this nickname because, to me, it represented the uniqueness of our bond. While this bond clearly began during the early months at the Academy, it grew stronger throughout the program. Our bond grew even stronger after graduation when we spent our first big leave together driving through Mexico on our way to Acapulco. It was hardened considerably when we both looked down the barrel of what appeared to be a hand-held cannon as we were robbed at gun point on the highway just north of Mexico City. The bond continued to grow as we shared experiences in Airborne and Ranger Schools. Ron served two tours in Vietnam, during which we also managed to reunite. While Ron was serving as a Professor of Military Science at Eastern Washington University, we even shared a day of family boating. We finally found ourselves retired on opposite sides of The Valley of the Sun near Phoenix, AZ, where we continued to enjoy frequent opportunities to spend time together.
Tom Needham, a close friend who served with Ron in the Army, remembered him as being all that the U.S. Military Academy had wanted. He always looked out for the little guy and was a super father and friend.
On December 28, 1968, Ron married Janice Ann Pavlian. In the 47 years that followed, they had four children: Brett, Jeanine, Shannon, and Tara; and eventually had three grandchildren: Gavin Glaus, Sadie, and Maegen Williams. Janice remembers Ron for his great sense of humor and the fact that he always put family first, even to the extent of turning down some assignments and personal aspirations because pursuing them would have separated him from his family. She relates that physical fitness was very important to Ron. He was an avid runner for 40 years, participating in several marathons. Additionally, he coached his children's baseball teams and, through Kiwanis Club, gave of his time willingly and joyfully to help others. He continued to share his love for sports and family as he bonded with Brett, Shannon, and Gavin through their attendance at Phoenix Suns and Arizona Cardinals games every year.
Upon retirement from the military, Ron started his own business in government contracting. His business partner, Dan Bieger, described Ron as a man of uncompromising morals, a man who understood duty. Ron supported his employees, praised them when they succeeded, and did his best to help them recover when they failed.
Ron's daughter Tara wrote a beautiful testament to her father and shared it with her siblings. They all agreed that she had nailed the essence of this very special man. She wrote: "My father was a man of honesty. He breathed truth into the hearts of his children and taught us to be true to others as well as ourselves. He gave us a passion for learning that is irreplaceable. He was always supportive of anything we wanted to do with our lives and provided an ear to listen anytime we needed advice. Most important, he taught us what it meant to be there for the people you love. He selflessly cared for his parents during their last years and for me as I faced a life-threatening illness in my 20s. He also reached out to strangers in need and gave of his time as a coach of the Special Olympics. These moments created an everlasting image of love and dedication to family and others that we will forever carry with us. He was intelligent, non-judgmental, humble, and understanding. He taught us that the most important thing we can do in this lifetime is be the best version of ourselves we can be. He was also silly and entertaining. He was a wonderful role model to my son, attending his baseball games, eating ice cream with him, and chatting with him about their days. We trusted our father's every word, knowing he never broke a promise. He continued to evolve every day of his life by striving to educate himself and by being honest with himself and others. He dedicated the last two years of his life to writing and proudly publishing his book, Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason. We hope to continue his legacy by being true to ourselves and continuing to grow and learn with each passing day."
In conclusion, I note that a common reflection of Ron came out in all that was shared with me. He was a good and honest man. I agree with that assessment and add one thing which always impresses me about great people—leadership. And I'm here to say that Ron Walter was a gifted leader of men.
I love you, Chops!
-- Rick Bunn