This was authored by Walter’s son and posted with permission. It’s a salute to all who serve our nation in the military and then serve our communities.
Walter McVeigh was born on the 9th of June 1925. At the age of 17 while still in high school Walter enlisted in the US Navy to proudly serve our nation in WWII against his Mother’s wishes, but with the blessing of his Father, who served in the Army during WWI. When he returned from the service, he finished high school and later joined the Grand Rapids Fire Department in which he served for 38 years thus following in his father’s footsteps.
He was active in his community all of his adult life, volunteering in such organizations as:
· American Cancer Society
· United Way
· Salvation Army, he received the “Concerned Citizen” award for his many years as a Bell Ringer, the “Others” award which is the highest award given to a non-Salvationist for their volunteer service.
· Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park , where he served as Board Member Emeritus
· Member and secretary of the Early Risers Grand Rapids Breakfast Club
· Alliance for Health
· Grand Rapids Circle Theatre
· Member of the American Legion Carl A. Johnson Post #2 for over 60 years
· Past Commander of Post #2
· For Post #2 he has been the Easter Bunny for the children at Lincoln Development Center for 54 years delivering Easter baskets for all of the children.
· Past Commander of the Fifth District Association
· He has been President of the Grand Rapids Red Arrow Club, 32nd Division Veteran Association, as well as Past President at the National level.
· Children and Youth Chairman for many years, raising money through aluminum tabs and donations to purchase medical equipment for children in local hospitals, including the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
· Bugler with the Kent County Honor Guard, playing taps for military funerals.
· Instrumental in refurbishing the brass plaques on the monuments at the Veterans Memorial Park downtown.
· One of his greatest joys has been as Santa Claus for over five decades for various organizations, as well as the Frederik Meijer Gardens since they opened.
· He was a frequent volunteer at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
· He was very passionate about proper use of the American Flag and educated people who were not aware of the proper etiquette.
· Received the “Trinity Award”, along with his wife Pamela, for their work in the community.
· Keeping with his Irish heritage, he proudly served as Grand Marshall of the 1988 St. Patrick’s Day Parade sponsored by the Ancient Order of the Hybernians.
And many, many more.
My Father was happiest when he interacted with other people, especially children. He had a good sense of humor and talked with everyone, whether he knew them or not. His love of children was shown in his many years as Santa Claus and his work as Children and Youth Chairman for the American Legion.
Walter died on 9 Dec 2014.