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1934 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
OECHSLE, Walter 82, of Delray Beach, FL, died from complications related to COPD on June 30, 2016 at his summer home in Sudbury, MA surrounded by his family. Mr. Oechsle was a pioneer in the field of international equity investing. The son of Matthaeus Oechsle and Regina Bopp Oechsle, Mr. Oechsle was born in Leutkirch, Germany on April 8, 1934. One of five children, he grew up in Bad Saulgau during World War II and its aftermath. His childhood memories included frequent air raid sirens, food scarcity, and long interruptions in his schooling due to the war and post-war French occupation. His mother died shortly following the war when Mr. Oechsle was a young teenager. Despite the deprivations of the post-war period, Mr. Oechsle was able to obtain a tennis racquet and taught himself how to play. He became the top tennis player in his region for his age group, catching the attention of a French officer who connected him with the American Field Service (AFS). Through an AFS student exchange program, Mr. Oechsle came to the United States in 1950 at the age of 16 to attend high school for one year. He lived with the family of Charles C. and Miriam Boyd Parlin and attended Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J.. Mr. Oechsle later recounted the discomfort he felt as a German coming to the U.S. shortly after the war, and his desire to help dispel what he imagined were negative views that Americans held about Germans at that time. However the kindness of the Parlin family and everyone at his high school alleviated his concerns, causing Mr. Oechsle to fall in love with the United States. At the end of his year-long exchange program he returned to Germany, but he was later invited by the Parlin family to return to the U.S. for college, and their generosity enabled him to attend Lafayette College. Graduating in 1957 as a history major, Mr. Oechsle began graduate work in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, but changed direction and ultimately went on to receive his MBA in finance from New York University. Mr. Oechsle began his career in 1959 as a financial analyst and investor at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, winning wide acclaim for his perspectives on international political, economic, and financial developments; for five years he wrote "Overseas Commentary," a column on international investing, for Forbes magazine. Later, as the head of the international division of the Putnam Management Company, Oechsle played an influential role in convincing US institutional investors to diversify a portion of their portfolios abroad, making the case for less efficient markets, higher potential returns, and reduced risk. In 1986, he founded Oechsle International Advisors, the first boutique investment management firm specializing in international investing, which attracted a who's who stable of blue chip clients, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cal PERS, Cal STRS, and many others. Oechsle, ever the contrarian, retired after a long and successful career in 2000, a time when he perceived that equity markets everywhere had gotten ahead of themselves.

Mr. Oechsle was predeceased, four years to the day, by his wife of 54 years, Christa Huber Oechsle. Christa was born just 10 miles from Walter's hometown, and she and Walter first met as teenagers in Germany. In the United States Mr. Oechsle became reacquainted with Christa, who had come to the U.S. to live with relatives on Long Island; they married in 1957 and eventually settled in Dix Hills, NY. When he wasn't working Mr. Oechsle devoted his time to his family and enjoyed sharing his passions for tennis and chess with his daughters, teaching them to play and engaging in fiercely competitive matches with them once they could play well enough to challenge him. His daughters remember that the intelligence, competitive spirit, and strong work ethic that served him so well in his professional life also made him a formidable tennis player; he spent many hours with a ball machine perfecting his slices and drop shots, which he used to great effect to frustrate and exhaust his opponents. Mr. Oechsle and his family moved to Sudbury, MA after Mr. Oechsle began working for Putnam. After his retirement, he and Christa began spending most of their time in Florida, but also enjoyed spending summers in Sudbury, as well as vacations and holidays at their home in Vermont. His family remembers fondly the interesting, wide-ranging, and often animated discussions around the breakfast or dinner table in Vermont that Mr. Oechsle so clearly relished, his wry wit and keen sense of humor making for many memorable mealtimes. In Florida, Mr. Oechsle turned his attention from tennis to golf, a sport he became as passionate about as he had been about tennis. His grandchildren fondly remember riding in the golf cart with their "Opa" when they were little, and later joining him on the course and marveling at his unorthodox, yet uncannily consistent, golf shots. Mr. Oechsle was also a gifted storyteller, and his grandchildren were fascinated by Opa's stories about his childhood in Germany; each grandchild's birthday card from Opa always included a wartime vignette of what their grandfather's life was like at that age. Mr. Oechsle was always grateful for the opportunities he received as a young immigrant from both the Parlin family and Lafayette College. . His awareness of the importance of these opportunities to his success influenced much of his and his wife’s philanthropic activity. In 1996 he and Christa established an endowed scholarship fund at Lafayette specifically for students from Eastern Europe. Walter and Christa delighted in getting to know these “Oechsle Scholars” during and after the students’ years at the college, often inviting them to their home for Thanksgiving or out to graduation dinners. He and Christa also provided financial support for two buildings on Lafayette’s campus: Oechsle Hall, which houses the neuroscience and psychology programs, and the Oechsle Center for Global Education, which furthers the college’s goal of incorporating a global perspective into every student’s educational experience. Mr. Oechsle’s commitment to Lafayette extended beyond financial support; he was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2004, and in that capacity gave much of his passion, intellect and energy to the college. Mr. Oechsle and Christa also supported a number of other organizations important to both of them, including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, the Israel Tennis Centers Foundation, and the Addison Reserve Cancer Unit in support of the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, FL. The Miriam Boyd Parlin Residence at Parmenter Hospice in Wayland, MA and the Community Building at Cold Spring School in New Haven, CT were also made possible by Walter and Christa’s generosity. Walter was also a member and supporter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In addition to these public charitable gifts, Mr. Oechsle quietly extended financial support and helpful guidance to scores of individuals throughout his life. Mr. Oechsle is survived by his daughters, Martina Vasconcelles, of Wellesley, MA. (and her spouse, Michael), Linda Oechsle, of Hamden, CT. (and her spouse, J. Bunton), Jennifer Brown, of Lido Beach, NY. (and her spouse, Eric); seven grandchildren (Andrew, Alexander, and Oliver Vasconcelles, Will and Tyler Bunton, and Caden and Cameron Brown); his partner, Lisa Fullmer; two sisters, Herta Blum, of Tuttlingen, Germany and Erna Geilsdorfer of Stuttgart, Germany; and several nieces and nephews and extended family in both the United States and Germany. A private family burial is planned near Mr. Oechsle’s beloved home in Plymouth, VT. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CareGroup Parmenter Hospice (266 Cochituate Rd., Wayland, MA 01778) or the Addison Reserve Cancer Unit (c/o Addison Reserve Country Club, 7201 Addison Reserve Blvd., Delray Beach, FL 33446).
Published in The Boston Globe on July 10, 2016
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