As a youth, Tom worked on a farm and enjoyed roaming and hunting in the many open fields and orchards that are now housing developments in Avon Lake. He graduated in 1948 from Avon Lake High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in February, 1951 and was assigned to a radar detachment oversees during the Korean War. He returned home after he was honorably discharged in October, 1954. He was a two-time Lorain County Speedway Stock Car champion, in 1950 and 1955. He gave up racing to marry the love of his life, Lea Rae.
Tom retired as Chief of Police from the Sheffield Lake Police Department in 1986. He served the City of Sheffield Lake for over 25 years, with the last 18 as the Chief. He was responsible for modernizing the police force during his tenure, which included the building of a new police station that still houses the Sheffield Lake Police Department. He studied police science at Lorain County Community College. He is credited with risking his life to save the life of a five year-old boy whom he rescued from the frigid waters of Lake Erie in April 1973. In a newspaper editorial, he was recognized for his “high regard for the rights of the defendants.”
In 1971 he was elected as president of the Chief Law Enforcement Officers’ Association of Lorain County and was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. He was a founding member of the Lorain County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG unit).
After retirement from the SLPD, Tom continued to operate Walther Construction Company, which specialized in masonry and concrete construction. He constructed numerous houses, foundations and fireplaces across Lorain County, including his own home and the homes of three of his children. He enjoyed tinkering, building twig furniture, fly fishing, and biking. Hiking and canoeing in the Adirondacks were a couple of his favorite adventures. He was a lifelong Indians and Browns fan and was thrilled by attending Game 5 of the World Series in 1995 at Jacobs Field. Tom and Lea Rae developed a love for exploring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, a love that they passed on to their family. He loved being “Papa” to his 10 grandchildren.
For over 40 years he was a Friend of Bill and mentored countless young men in their battles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Tom had a deep Christian faith and was a lifelong member of the Avon Lake United Church of Christ, where he had served on the Board of Trustees. Service as a Stephen Minister and a hospice volunteer were two of his passions. Civic interests included volunteering with Lorain County Friends of the Metroparks; as Committee Chairman of Boy Scout Troop 303 in Sheffield Lake and as a board member for Lorain County Children’s Services.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his best friend and wife of over 57 years, Lea Rae (nee Keil); daughter, Cynthia (Jack) Petrucci and their children, Joy, David and Matthew; son, James (Dawn) Walther and their children, Matthew, Hayley and Rose; son, Daniel (Deanna) Walther and their children, Olivia and Sadie; daughter, Jill (Jeff) Camp and their children, Thomas and Madeline; his sister, Janice Van Wagner and loving nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Carl J. Walther, in 1973; and his mother, Luella Walther (nee Collard) in 1991.
His life will be celebrated at a memorial service Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 6 P.M. at the Avon Lake United Church of Christ, 32801 Electric Blvd., Avon Lake.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Avon Lake United Church of Christ Waypoint Youth Ministries, funds which will be used for the youth programs and youth missions trips of the church.
Arrangements by Busch Funeral Home, Avon Lake, (440) 933-3202, www.buschcares.com