Howard Homer Walters, a retired civil engineer and former president of Bell Atlantic Properties, died of kidney failure April 1 at the BayWoods of Annapolis. The longtime Cape St. Claire resident was 83.
Born in Baltimore and raised in West Baltimore on Belmont Avenue, he was the son of Howard Walters, a Western Union telegrapher, and Marie Hefner Walters, a homemaker. He was a 1948 graduate of the Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland in 1952. He was a member of Reserve Officer Training Corps.
"My father was a self-made man who worked his way through college," said a daughter, Diane W. Green of Shady Side. "He took the jobs he could get. He hitchhiked because his family had no car."
He married Helen Elizabeth "Betty" Scheuch, a Western High School graduate who lived near his childhood home. They met in Sunday school class and had dated many years.
During the Korean War, he was a first lieutenant in the Air Force and was assigned to northern Maine near the Canadian border.
Mr. Walters returned to Baltimore in 1956 and joined the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. He worked in its management and became a division manager for real estate operations. After the court-ordered breakup of the phone system, he held executive posts with Bell Atlantic.
"My father took his children on Sunday drives and showed us all the structures he had built. He was proud that he had bought vacant former churches and put switching equipment in them," his daughter said. "He was aware of their historical importance."
He was sent to work with AT&T in New York City to manage construction of the Bell Systems exhibition at the 1964 New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. During this period, he and his family lived in Chatham, N.J.
He resumed his work for the old C&P Telephone and oversaw construction of regional facilities. Among his duties was the leasing of a telephone building at the corner of Pratt and Light streets, one of the earliest new buildings constructed in the Inner Harbor. He was also in charge of the 35-acre Chesapeake Complex in Calverton in the Washington suburbs.
Nearly 45 years ago, Mr. Walters underwent emergency neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital for a rare brain condition. The surgery required that he retrain himself to write with his left hand.
"It was a testament to his determination that he was able to write again, play golf, to swim and to sail again," his daughter said. "He went through months of physical therapy. He was a proud man and kept this part of life private."
In 1981, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer named him to a task force on eradicating Inner Harbor vandalism.
Mr. Walters accepted a new assignment in April 1985, moving to Philadelphia to become president of Bell Atlantic Properties. There he directed the building of the 53-story Bell Atlantic Tower on downtown Philadelphia's Arch Street.
"He said he bought half a mountain of granite in Italy to get that building built," said his daughter, the Naval Academy's publications director.
Mr. Walters also received a Master of Corporate Real Estate designation. He was a past director of the National Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives.
He retired in 1989. He moved back to Maryland and sailed on the Chesapeake Bay with his family. He also traveled, played golf and was a daily swimmer. He served on the boards of Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville and at the Hospice of Queen Anne's County. Over the years, he also had homes on the Magothy River and in Cape St. Claire.
He was a member of the Engineers Club in Baltimore.
A life celebration will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at BayWoods of Annapolis, 7101 Bay Front Road.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of nearly 63 years; a son, Scott H. Walters of Annapolis; another daughter, Susan K. Lewis of Aberdeen; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun