Walter Oskar Ullram
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North Canaan, CT -
Walter Oskar Ullram, 98, of Geer Village, Canaan died November 20, 2013 at Geer
Nursing & Rehabilitation Center after a short illness. He leaves his wife of 22 years, Mary Claire Ullram, three sons; Walter, Robert and Terence, five grandchildren; J Ullram, Beth Connors , Jessica Ullram Fletcher, Michael Ullram, Francesca Ullram, and three great grandchildren; Leah Connors, Olivia Fletcher, and Finnegan Fletcher.
Walter was born on June 13, 1915 in Vienna, Austria, the son of Doris and Oskar Ullram. Walter graduated from the University of Vienna, where he studied both law and engineering, and also excelled in water polo and downhill skiing. He was in the Austrian Army Officer Training Program when Hitler invaded Vienna. Rather than join the Nazi army, he chose to escape by skiing over the Austrian Alps. He and eleven fellow cadets skied and walked seventy miles through the Alps into Switzerland. From there he made his way to France, and then to the United States where he became a United States citizen.
While living in Poughkeepsie, NY, he met and married Winifred Murray. In 1942 he enlisted in the US Army. From 1942 to 1943 he took part in many allied invasions, including the invasion of Sicily and fighting across Sicily to Palermo. It was there he learned from the Red Cross of the birth of Walter, his first son. On June 6, 1944 Walter and his division landed on Omaha beach on the first day of the Normandy invasion. Of the 200 soldiers in his infantry company, only nineteen survived to reach the top of the hill beyond the invasion beach. The following day he was shot by a sniper in the chest, but the bullet was slowed and deflected by his dog tags and crucifix — which he had just received the previous day as a gift from a Roman Catholic Cardinal — stopping just short of his heart. He was evacuated to England, where he spent five weeks recovering. In late July 1944, Walter rejoined the war and fought to liberate France from the German occupation. At a village near St. Lo, his unit was pinned down by enemy fire coming from a church steeple just behind the German line. Walter and another soldier moved stealthily through the German lines without being detected, climbed the back stairwell, and overpowered the two Germans manning the observation and machine gun position in the tower. For that action, he was awarded the bronze star. From August of 1944 to December 1944, Walter and his division pressed the retreating Germans across France to the German border. During one of the battles, a German bomb exploding in the trees above him seriously wounded both legs. He was then evacuated to England, and spent two years in and out of hospitals recovering. During his years in combat, Walter was wounded five times and was awarded five purple hearts, in addition to the bronze star.
Upon returning to the States, Walter rejoined his family and began his work in independent education. He and his wife Winifred had two more sons, Robert and Terence, and the family moved to Salisbury, CT. There, he served as the business manager at Salisbury School until his retirement in 1981. During this time he was a member of the Association of Business Officers of Preparatory Schools, an elite business manager's organization, where he served two years as president. He was also a founding member of the Business Association of Housatonic Schools, whose purpose was to bring together independent school business managers in the tri state area. Active in his community, Walter served on the zoning and finance boards, was a member of Rotary International, and served as a communicant of Saint Mary's Church. He enjoyed golfing and sailing.
During retirement, he enjoyed travel and winters in Florida. After 49 years of marriage, he lost his beloved wife, Winifred, to cancer. In 1991, he married Mary Claire Ranson, with whom he spent the last 22 years of retirement, sharing numerous cruises and vacations throughout the world.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Mary's Church in Lakeville, CT on Saturday, December 14, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Walter's memory may be made to the
's Southern New England Region 38 Richards Ave Norwalk Connecticut 06854 -2318
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Nov. 24, 2013