Walter T. Stahlecker - 2003

     Walter Theodore Stahlecker was born Dec. 13, 1919, in rural Bethune to John and Maria (Dobler) Stahelcker.  He was born again in Christ through Holy Baptism in the name of the Triune God on Feb. 22, 1920, at Hope Evangelical Congregation of Bethune.  He was raised both in the Bethune area and in the San Luis Valley.  He was confirmed in his faith on June 16, 1935 at Hope Evangelical Congregation.  His confirmation verse was 1 John 2:15 -- "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

After completing his schooling, Walter began working as a cowboy, primarily on the Medano Ranch in the San Luis Valley.  In 1942, he entered the army and served in the Aleutian Island of Alaska being discharged in 1945.  On Sept, 18, 1946, he was united in marriage to Vera Klockner.  This union was blesses with six children and over 56 years of companionship.

Walter attended Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University), graduating in 1950.  After working for Farmers Home Administration for several years he returned to cowboying before beginning a lengthy career in education.  He taught for several years in the classroom before entering school administration.  He earned a master's degree in chemistry and physics from the University of Wyoming, and a master's in education administration at Adams State College.  He served in the Sangre do Cristo, Rangely, and Florence school districts before retiring in 1981.  Walt's retirement allowed him and Vera the opportunity to spend the next 11 years with the Laborers for Christ program. He was able to use his many talents while traveling the county and assisting Lutheran congregations with building and remodeling churches.  Twenty-two communities were touched by their efforts of love.

Walter departed for his heavenly home on Thursday, May 29, 2003, at his home in Colorado Springs.  Walter was preceded in death by his parents and 8 siblings.  Walter is survived by his wife, Vera, of the home; 4 sons -- Paul (Jackie) of Durango, Dale (Beverly) of Santa Fe, NM, Joel (Lisa) of Divide, and Alan (Sheri) of Lincolnville Kan.;  2 daughters -- Susan (Chuck) Perce of Divide, and Jean (Ron) Bruns of Colorado Springs; 2 sisters -- Lydia Adolf of Bethune and Dorothy Klein of Wray; 16 grandchildren -- Matt, Marty, Brian, Corey, Rob, Mandi, Sarah, Kelly, Joshua, Aaron, Rebecca, Andrea, Daniel, Jon, Todd, and Brianne;  10 great-grandchildren Daryle, Mathew, Cheyanne, Kamisha, Jeffrey, Natasha, Noah, CJ, Cassie, Andrew, and many cousins, nephews, nieces and friends.

Walter lived a life full of love for family, friends and God.  More important then the many accomplishments of his own life are the ways he has touched the lives of other people.  An optimist at heart, he has inspired many to live life fully and with joy and thankfulness by his example.  He had found the strength in his faith to take the wisdom and experience of the past and use it to look to the future. Even until his last he had "too much to do," with chronicling the family history in words and with the wood carvings he whittled.  His book, "Memories and Musings of an Old Cowpoke," had brought joy to his family, friends, and the many people who have read it.  As busy as he kept himself, he always took the time to support and be with the ones he loved.  As a cousin said, "when an older person dies, it is like a library burns down as so much knowledge and precious memories go with them. In Walt's case, it is as though we have lost a whole wing of the Smithsonian."  Fortunately for us, he has touched so many lives that a part of him will live on in each of us. Husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend and teacher, he will always be remembered as the true definition of a great man.