Walter B. Benckert
Aug 17, 1925 – Oct 1, 2015
Walter Baxter Benckert passed away peacefully on October 1, 2015 after a brief illness. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Walter was born August 17, 1925 at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington to Edith and Edwin Benckert, the third of five children. He attended Garfield High School in Seattle prior to being drafted by the Army in 1943.
After completing training at Camp Roberts in California, he was immediately shipped out to fight on the island of New Guinea. Walter was assigned to Heavy Weapons M Squad, 63rd Division, Sixth Army. He was later sent to Luzon in the Philippines where his squad landed on D-Day. After WW2 ended, Walter remained in the Philippines with the occupation forces until transferred to South Korea where he served until his enlistment was up.
He was awarded a Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Service Star, an Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and a Victory Medal. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant and was honorably discharged in May, 1946.
In September, 1947 Walter met Doris Reed at a Shell service station in Seattle. Doris lived nearby and regularly went to the station for gas. Glenn Davis, the station owner, tried for months to arrange for Doris to meet Walter, but Doris was not the least bit interested. Finally, they both happened to be at the station at the same time. Walter, at Glenn’s urging, asked Doris out to a dance. Doris reluctantly agreed and the rest is history.
Exactly one year to the day after they met Walter proposed to Doris. They eloped and were married in March, 1949. Doris would later note that the happiest years of her life were with Walter after they married. Many years later in a family history book Doris wrote, “I have always had such a happy, contented feeling when I am with him.” They were true companions. Their marriage endured with love for more than 66 years until Doris passed last May. Their only child, Pat, was born in 1958.
After working for Western Electric as an equipment installer and for Great Northern Railroad for a short time, Walter was hired by Duratile in Seattle in 1950. There, he learned skills in cabinetry, floor repair, plumbing, carpentry and remodeling in general, skills he also generously shared with family and friends all his life. A tape measure was his constant companion. For nearly 35 years, Walter was a union member working in the building trades.
Those skills served him well after he and Doris purchased their first home, a one bedroom house in West Seattle. Walter remodeled the entire wood frame house; tearing out walls, removing doors, adding windows, building kitchen cabinets, installing new sinks and floor coverings. It was a project that spanned 10 years. Following Pat’s birth, the family moved a few miles away to a larger home, but Doris and Walter returned to this first home following retirement and the remodeling continued.
In 1974, Doris and Walter purchased several acres in Port Orchard on which to build a large home and operate a plant nursery. That required constructing a 3-story home from the ground up, fencing pastures and garden areas and adding gravel roads. All of Walter’s skills were put to good use as he personally completed much of the building.
Walter always loved to drive. His early jobs took him all over the Northwest. He could describe exactly how to get anywhere in the area from Everett to Tacoma and then some. He knew all the back ways and little known roads. After retirement he put that love of driving into practice as he and Doris purchased a pickup and 26‘ trailer and traveled and camped throughout the United States from Alaska to Maine. They also enjoyed a week in Hawaii as a 50th anniversary gift from Pat.
In later years, when Walter could no longer drive long distances, he and Doris would take many special trips with Pat to Seaside, Oregon and Long Beach, WA., to the Puyallup Fair and to the tulips fields in the spring near Mt. Vernon
Walter enjoyed going with Pat to Mariner and UW Husky football games. A large group of Pat’s friends regularly attended the Husky games, and everyone loved having Walter there. Walter enjoyed baking and would plan all week what sort of baked concoction he was going to bring to the tailgate party, and he would often share his recipes.
Walter had a sly sense of humor and loved to laugh. He always enjoyed the Sunday comics. His smile coupled with the twinkle in his eye could put anyone at ease. That made him the perfect Santa for many years at the annual Christmas party out on by Pat’s friends. Even in his last weeks if someone started laughing he would join in.
He was a devoted husband, a beloved father and a true gentleman. He will be remembered for his friendly, easy-going style, a warm smile and his generosity to help others whenever needed.
He is survived by his daughter, Pat, of Normandy Park, WA., his brother, Edwin, and sisters, Helen and Louise
In lieu of flowers or memorials, donations to the Alzheimer’s Association at ALZ.ORG. would be appreciated.
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