Cover photo for Donald Lee Walters's Obituary
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1928 Donald 2021

Donald Lee Walters

September 23, 1928 — February 16, 2021

Don Walters of Bozeman passed away February 16, 2021 at the age of 92. Don was born in 1928 in Milwaukee, WI. His father worked at A. O. Smith company making bombs, and his mother was a welder when he was growing up. He was raised on his grandmother’s dairy. In 1946 Don quit school at the age of 17 to enlist in the military. With his mother’s permission, he enlisted in the Army. He did his basic training at Fort McClellan, AL. Following this he was assigned to the War Crimes Trials at Dachau, Germany. The trials included the Malmedy Massacre by the Nazis. After a year in Germany, Don came home on leave and was sent to Sendai, Japan. He joined the Airborne Division and was sent to Hokkaido, Japan, and the 11th Airborne Division. He was getting close to his discharge, so he was transferred to Fort Bragg, NC, and the 82nd Airborne Division. He served as the regimental mail clerk and was discharged a corporal in 1949, with honors. He spent a short time in Alaska, mining for gold and appreciating the Alaskan wild.

At this time, jobs were difficult to find, so Don took advantage of the GI bill and went back to school. He was graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in education. He also attended the University of Hawaii, studying art. He began his teaching career at Great Falls High School in 1955, where he met his wife Clarice, and they were married in 1957. During his time in Great Falls Don also coached the Great Falls High School ski team. The Walters family enjoyed an exchange student from Norway during this time, who Don also coached in skiing, and qualified for the Olympics. Daughters, Kristi, and Heidi were born during this time, and were skiing before they could walk. He also served as Executive Secretary for the United States Ski Association. In 1968 they transferred to Western Montana College, where Don was head of the Art Department and the Rodeo Coach. Both Don and Clarice completed their graduate work at Montana State University.

During his years at Western Montana College, Don also advised the Art club and Kappa Pi. Don initiated the rural Art Mobile project that brought art experiences to rural schools in the area. During his tenure at WMC he worked unselfishly toward the betterment of Art Education in Montana. His dedication to the Rodeo Program, the team, and building of the rodeo legacy at Western is well remembered and honored.

After his retirement Don and Clarice moved to Bozeman, MT. Hardly retiring, Don worked part time at Cashman Nursery, substitute taught in the Belgrade schools, stayed involved in Retired Teachers, attended the Lutheran church, and the American Legion.

Don’s wife Clarice preceded him in passing. He is survived by his daughter Kristen (Rock) Swenson, and grandsons Eric and Wynn of Livingston, and daughter Heidi Walters, of Bozeman. There will be memorial services this spring in Bozeman and Dillon to celebrate Don’s life. Don touched more lives with his teaching and passion for life that we can imagine. He was a son, father, grandfather, husband, teacher, ski coach, fantastic mogul skier, rodeo coach, WWII Veteran, artist, rancher, photographer, a quilter, weaver, mentor, master gardener, and an awesome baker. In memory of Mr. Walters, buy a student a book, a box of paints with a brush, a box of crayons, and a coffee card for the teacher, or a coupon for a pizza dinner after a very dedicated time to teaching……We miss you dad, and will cherish you always.

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