Walter was born in Stettler, Alberta on January 14, 1920 to Charles Rupert and Verna Genevive Wickson. One and a half years later, he became a big brother to sister Mary. The family moved to Vancouver when he was six years old and then on to Victoria in 1928 where his father became the Manager of the Oak Bay Branch, Bank of Montreal. The Bank of Montreal told a 17-year-old Walter that he would be starting his banking career immediately and he would have to finish Grade 12 on his own. Walter worked at the Douglas Street Main, Oak Bay, and Trail Branches until 1941.
At eight years old, Walter was crossing a field in Kitsilano when he saw his first flying airplane, four military floatplanes in formation over the water. From that moment on, he was hooked. He flew in a number of airplanes in Canada and the US before the war. Walter took RCAF flight training where he placed first in his class in both ground school and flying school. At any point in his life, he could tell you what kind of plane was flying overhead, often just by the sound of it. Walter started building model airplanes as a boy and as an adult, he formed Victoria Products to manufacture and sell vacuform airplanes worldwide. He also collected airplane magazines (88 boxes and 19 crates!) and books from 1932 to the end of his life.
Walter enlisted in the RCAF where he served as a pilot. At the age of 22, he became the pilot-in-command of a Catalina flying boat with a crew of nine and was posted to Durban, South Africa, where he patrolled over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. After his first tour was complete, he was posted to the Patricia Bay Airport where he trained new pilots on Catalinas. In 1944, he married Jocelyn Barbara Ellen Cave at the Oak Bay United Church in Victoria, BC.
After the war, he returned to the Bank of Montreal for seven years. Walter realized that he really missed the Air Force and rejoined in 1952 as an Accountant Officer, beginning his career in Gimli, Manitoba. In 1954, with two children in tow and another on the way, he and Jocelyn were posted to RCAF Grostenquin, near Metz, France for three years. On their return to Canada in 1957, they lived in Montreal, Ottawa (where he was promoted to Squadron Leader) and Halifax. In 1966, he was the Senior Staff Officer of Finance for Maritime Command responsible for 29 ships and six bases.
On New Year’s Eve of 1967, he took his family, minus Susan, who was studying at Dalhousie, to Yellowknife, NWT where he ended up as Chief Accountant for the territorial government. In 1969, he moved to Victoria, minus Rob who was working for the NWT government. In Victoria, Walter worked for both the provincial and federal governments. After Jocelyn’s passing in 1971, Walter married Corinne Isobel Oliphant and adopted her two daughters, Elise and Margot. Walter worked until 1985 when he retired as the Manager, Supply Service Canada in Victoria. After retirement, he and Corinne travelled the world visiting over 50 countries.
In addition to airplanes, Walter also had a passion for art. He was a self-taught artist who liked to sketch, do oil paintings, and work with pastels, his favourite in later years. He was also an avid photographer who enjoyed taking many meticulous photos on family occasions. Last, but not least, was his love of chocolate! He always said there was a second stomach for dessert.
Walter passed away on September 24, 2019 after a short stay in hospital following a stroke and complications from pneumonia. Walter was predeceased by his first wife Jocelyn (1971), sister Mary (1998) and daughter Susan (2007). Left to celebrate his life are his sons Robert (Claudia) and Mark (Patricia), six grandchildren with Jocelyn; Jodi (Raffaele), Torrey (Danielle), Craig, Jennifer, Melanie, Rhianna and great-grandson Caden. Also left behind are his second wife Corinne and daughters Elise (Wayne) and Margot (Geoff) and two granddaughters Nina and Gillian.
The family would like to thank Sunrise Senior Living and Hart House for their loving care of Walter for the last five and a half years. We are also grateful to the staff on the 4th floor South Unit B of the Victoria General Hospital for their attentive care of Walter during the last two weeks of his life. It should be noted that family friend, Elizabeth Ormiston, spent many hours at Walter’s side at the hospital.
No service has been planned. However, a Celebration of his Life will be held in the New Year. If you are interested in attending, please contact McCall Gardens with your e-mail address or phone number as they will forward the information to the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Walter’s favourite charity, the Kiwanis Club of Victoria, of which he was a Kiwanian for 30 years. http://www.kiwanisvictoria.ca/
Condolences may be offered to the family below.
David Walter StarkOctober 5, 2019