Feb. 16, 1927 – Aug. 14, 2016
Arthur P. Walters, an Army veteran who helped concentration camp survivors start new lives after World War II, died on Aug. 14 under hospice care in his North Tonawanda home. He was 89.
He received the Purple Heart and many other honors for his military service, including the Bronze Medal of Merit from the Polish government.
A father of six, Mr. Walters worked 52 years as a drywall finisher before retiring in 2002. His wife of 57 years, the former Patty Gillotte, died last year.
Born in Buffalo and raised on the city’s East Side and on a farm in Alden, Mr. Walters was a talented pen-and-ink artist. As a teenager, he had to turn down an art school scholarship because he was needed at home to earn money for his family.
“He joined the Army at age 18 and went overseas in 1945. He joined Patton’s Army, but when they found out that he was fluent in Polish, they sent him to Poland and Czechoslovakia to help resettle people who had been in the death camps,” said one of his daughters, Sandra Walters-Toth. “He saw some horrible things in these camps. ... In later years, he would get very emotional just thinking about some of the things he saw there.”
Mr. Walters returned to Western New York after the war and began working with drywall in 1950. A meticulous workman, he spent most of his career with L&S Drywall Co., based in Wheatfield.
A long-time volunteer fireman with the Tonawanda Hook & Ladder Company, Mr. Walters enjoyed many hobbies, including vintage gun collecting, World War II history, restoring old cars and treasure-hunting at flea markets. He especially enjoyed spending time with his seven grandchildren.
He was a member of St. Francis of Assisi Church, 71 Adam St., City of Tonawanda, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday.
He is survived by three daughters, Ms. Walters-Toth, Diana Sloane and Linda Broeker; and three sons, Paul, David and Patrick.