He was raised in Des Moines, Iowa, but lived for a short time in Evanston, Illinois where he was close friends with Marlon Brando. In high school in Des Moines won many awards for his swimming. He joined the Army Air Corp. when he was 19, and became a B-24 bombardier, flying bombing missions out of western Italy into Eastern Europe in 1944 and 1945. On his eighth mission in September 1944 he was wounded and hospitalized. On his twenty-ninth mission in February 1945 his plane was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and he crash landed in Pecs, Hungary. He was listed as missing in action and presumed dead for thirty days. Fortunately, the plane landed in Russian occupied territory and, after traveling through Hungary and Yugoslavia, he arrived in Bucharest, Romania, where he was able to live comfortably at the Athenee Palace Hotel by selling parachute silk until arrangements could be made to get him back to his base in Italy. By the end of his tour of duty on April 2, 1945, he had flown 62 missions. 35 of those missions were considered combat sorties. For valor under fire, Wally received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and a Purple Heart.
After the war, he returned to Des Moines and married Lupe, his grade school sweetheart. His first job was repossessing automobiles in the Midwest, but ultimately he got in to the reinsurance business by joining the Northeastern Insurance Company of Hartford. He and his family moved to Hartford, Connecticut. and then back to Des Moines. In 1959, at age 35, Wally and his family moved to Ormond Beach where he started his own business managing insurance and reinsurance risks for other insurance companies. The company was very successful and had small offices throughout the country and a large office in New York City, where he was elected to the board of the New York Insurance Exchanges (similar to Lloyds of London). He became a member of Lloyds of London in 1973. His business allowed him and Lupe to travel extensively around the world, but primarily in Western Europe. He retired from the business in 1989 and sold it to his children. He was one of the founders and Chairman of the Board of Ormond Memorial Hospital, now the Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, a founder and director of the American Bank of Ormond Beach, which was purchased by Barnett Bank and then by Bank of America. He was disappointed that the Republican Party was not very active in Florida, so he became involved in the recruitment of candidates. He was campaign manager for Bud Fleuchaus during his campaign for Congress in 1972. He also was the Volusia County campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidates Skip Bafalis and Jack Eckerd. His local civic involvement included terms as Chairman of the Ormond Beach Beautification Committee and the Citizens Committee for Public Works. He and his wife were named Humanitarians of the Year by Memorial Hospital in 1993, and were awarded the Community Service Award for Exceptional Support from the Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1977. In 1975, Wally and Lupe purchased property outside of Cashiers, North Carolina. They would spend their summer months there, enjoying the beautiful weather and their many guests. Wally and his family have been helped and supported by many people during his life, but especially in the last 35 years by Sheila Wiley, who has become a dear friend of the family.
Wally was a bit of a collector collecting hats, ash trays and matchbook covers. His passions were music (he has a vast collection of LPs, tapes and CDs) and photography. He always had the latest still cameras and video cameras. He was able to combine his loves of music and photography by dubbing his videos with his music, and took great delight in showing his musical videos to unsuspecting guests. He also enjoyed golf, tennis and gin rummy with his buddies. Wally had a great sense of humor he had a joke for every occasion. He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He taught them all that it was important to give back to the community and that honesty to self and others was essential to success. A memorial service will be held at St. James Episcopal Church at 11a.m., on June 27th. Wally will be buried in Des Moines. In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that donations in Wallys name be given to the Florida Hospital Memorial Foundation, 305 Memorial Medical Parkway, Suite 212, Daytona Beach, Fl. 32174.