NORMAN — Walter F. Scheffer, 92, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in Norman. Walter was born March 16, 1921, to Frank and Clara Scheffer in Humbird, Wis.
He lived with his six siblings on a dairy farm, which today remains in the family after more than 125 years. Walter’s parents supported the educational aspirations of their children and Walter was an excellent student. After his early schooling, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from the State Teachers College, Eau Claire, Wis.
In 1943 he enlisted in the Army where he served during World War II as a B-29 navigator in the Army Air Corps. At the urging of a friend, he started a pen-pal correspondence with a beautiful, vivacious young woman named Barbara Moore who lived in New Jersey.
Their relationship blossomed through the exchange of letters and pictures and culminated with Walter’s trip across country to finally meet her in person at Penn Station in New York City.
A few months later, in November, 1945, he married Barbara in Hawthorne, N.J. Walter and Barbara spent their early married life in Madison, where Walter received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Wisconsin.
In 1951, Walter accepted a position to teach political science at the University of Oklahoma and the couple moved to Norman with their two young daughters. Eventually, a son and a third daughter were born in Norman and Walter and Barbara were immersed in a rewarding family life.
Walter’s career flourished at OU, where he served as chairman of the political science department for five years and was director of the Public Administration Program for 20 years. He was instrumental in creating the Advanced Programs in public administration, which enrolled thousands of students in a master’s degree program that has been offered at U.S. military bases around the world since 1965.
He was appointed a Regents’ Professor of Political Science in 1978. He edited and co-authored several books and published articles in professional journals and chapters in books on public administration. He served on the board of the American Society for Public Administration and was the institutional representative to the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration for many years.
He served a term as president of the Oklahoma Political Science Association and the state chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. He was listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the Southwest.
Despite all these accolades and accomplishments, Walter’s real legacy is captured in the memories of his many students and professional colleagues who appreciated his keen intellect, his kind and generous spirit and his dry sense of humor. He was always delighted to hear from former students and maintained his friendships with colleagues after his retirement in 1986 after 35 years at OU.
Walter fulfilled a dream for Barbara in these later years when they bought a second home in Florida where they enjoyed ocean-side living for several months annually, with family and friends visiting. Barbara contracted polio in 1953 and had used a wheelchair ever since. She could not have met this profound challenge without the unwavering love and support of Walter.
After Barbara’s death in 1995, Walter was blessed to experience a loving union once more with his marriage in 1997 to another exceptional woman, Dolores Abraham.
Their romance was sparked when Walter happened to attend the annual Kentucky Derby party hosted by Dolores and her son and daughter-in-law. Walter’s more reserved nature was complemented by Dolores’ outgoing personality.
They enjoyed travel, mutual friendships, entertaining and experiencing the simple joys of everyday life such as sitting in their sun porch appreciating their beautiful backyard. Walter regularly attended Norman Lions Club where he had been a member for several decades, as well as a luncheon club of friends retired from the Department of Political Science at OU.
A lifelong Democrat, he was an astute follower of current events. He occasionally wrote thought provoking letters to the Norman Transcript in support of Democratic policies. He attended Mass weekly at St. Thomas More University Parish where he had been a member since 1951. At his 92nd birthday party hosted by Dolores last March, Walter’s gracious nature was evident when he honored each of the guests with a personal introduction and praiseworthy anecdote, all delivered contemporaneously.
His four children are forever grateful for his enduring love and his example for them of a truly good and decent life, full of quiet dignity and courage. His seven grandchildren revered their Pop Pop and will miss him greatly.
Walter is survived by his wife, Dolores; his daughters, Paula and husband George Lader and their sons, Mark and Daniel, Nicole and her husband Thomas Tousley and their son Nicholas, and Claudia and her husband Michael Gallo and their daughters, Alexandra and Jessica; and his son, David and his wife Michelle Huhnke and their daughter Kate and son Henry; a sister, Anita; a brother, Francis; and Walter’s wife Dolores’ sons, Anthony and Michael Abraham and his wife Donna.
Walter was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara in 1995; his parents; and brothers Anthony, Bernard and Robert; sister, Marion; and infant sister Coletta.
The family will greet friends Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Havenbrook Funeral Home of Norman. Mass of a Christian Burial will be 3 p.m. Monday at St. Thomas More University Parish, 100 Stinson Street, Norman with interment following at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.
The family has requested in lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Walter F. Scheffer Scholarship Award in Public Administration, University of Oklahoma Foundation, 100 Timberdell Road, Norman, OK 73072 or to St. Thomas More University Parish, 100 Stinson Street, Norman, OK 73072.
Arrangements for Walter and his family were placed in the care of the Vice family at the Havenbrook Funeral Home of Norman.
Norman Transcript, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013