East Lansing, Michigan. Formerly of Lansing.
Age 93, died June 19 at Sparrow Hospital following a brief illness.
He leaves his wife, Ann, daughter Lisa (Madeleine), son David (Shoshana), grandson Ben, and a large extended family including former exchange students, devoted conversation partners, and an assortment of mutually adopted extra children and grandchildren.
He was born on March 15, 1922 in Harmuthsachsen, Germany, to Gustav and Selma Kron. When he was four, they moved to the small town of Fritzlar where his father was cantor and schoolmaster of the Jewish school. In 1937, when Walter was 15, he left Germany on his own as part of a program organized to get Jewish children away from the Nazi threat. His parents, unable to obtain visas, perished in the Chelmno concentration camp in 1944. After graduating high school in New Haven, Walter enlisted in the U.S.Army where he became one of the “Ritchie Boys,” a group of primarily German Jewish soldiers who were sent back to Germany to work as interrogators of Nazi POWs. After the war he attended Antioch College and then the University of Michigan, where he received both a master’s degree in Near Eastern History and a law degree. It was in Ann Arbor that he met Ann Beckel, whom he courted in a distinctly non-romantic way, resulting in a 57-year marriage of complete mutual adoration and respect. They raised their children, Lisa and David, in Lansing’s West Side where Walter joined Ann in her efforts, through the West Side Neighborhood Association, to build a healthy, racially integrated neighborhood. He worked for 35 years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan (continuing to work for ten years after losing his sight). He was a co-founder of congregation Kehillat Israel. He was also a member Congregation Shaarey Zedek and regularly attended services at Chabad. Had there been a fourth congregation in the Lansing area, he would, no doubt, have attended that as well. He was a gentle, graceful, insightful, learned, and kind man who earned the affection and admiration of all who crossed his path.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 p.m. Monday, June 22, 2015, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Monday for 1 hour prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Kehillat Israel or the Greater Lansing Food Bank.