Remembering Bill Walters: A politician, public servant and grandfather
As a child, Mark Walters remembers fond memories visiting his grandfather at the York County Judicial Center.
Passing time by playing whiffle ball or typing away on a keyboard, Mark Walters grew up watching his grandfather, Bill Walters, who served in several elected county positions, including four terms as Register of Wills, and as a Springettsbury Township supervisor.
"I thought 'wow, he must really be important,'" said Mark Walters, who is now York County's spokesperson. "He talks to all these people who are dressed really nice, and as a 6-year-old, I just looked at it in awe."
Bill Walters died on Sunday at the age of 90. With a strong dedication to politics, the Republican joined the local government scene after moving to Springettsbury Township from Brooklyn, New York, in 1964.
Bill Walters also served as the president of the Register of Wills and Clerks of Orphans Court Association of Pennsylvania starting in 1994. He also was a Republican Party Committee member for Springettsbury Township, according to his obituary.
Those who admired him, including his grandson, said Bill Walters' commitment to serving the York County community and adherence to politics followed him up until he died — even casting a mail-in ballot for the 2020 presidential election prior to his death.
"I think I just saw it as this model of civic engagement," Mark Walters said. "That's what I would want him to be remembered for — for a man of service and integrity."
Becky Foust agreed.
Foust, who was hired by Bill Walters in 1988 as a second deputy in the Register of Wills office, still remembers her former boss.
"We've all had much respect for him, that even as recently as when I visited him this year, he was still 'Mr. Walters' to me," said the now-chief deputy of the Clerk of Orphans Court. "He was a great man."
Foust recalled one particular incident that she fondly remembered, of when she and a co-worker got stranded 30 miles outside of Sharon, Mercer County, on the way to the 71st annual Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans Court Convention.
She said she called Bill Walters to save the day.
"I'll never forget it," Foust said. "Here he came in his flip-flops, carrying a gas can to put gas in our car — he never let us forget that one."
Bill Walters also was a military veteran. He had enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and volunteered for active service during the Korean War, with a role on the USS Newport News and USS Missouri.
Mark Walters said he hopes his "pop-pop" will be remembered for his strong moral compass, sense of humor and care for the community.
"He always did what he felt was right. Sometimes that meant upsetting some people, but that's government at work," Mark Walters said. "He didn't mess around, and I would just want people to remember that."
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.