DUTCHER Jr., Walton D.
79, passed away July 10, 2016. Born to Lydia Hickcox Dutcher and Walton D. Dutcher, Sr. in Milwaukee, WI, he spent his early years growing up in Shorewood, graduating from Shorewood High School. He loved the water and spent his summers swimming and lifeguarding on Lake Michigan.
Wally, also known as Dutch, enrolled in architectural school at the University of Illinois, but was drawn to the Navy. He was stationed in Newport Beach, RI and it was during his time there that he had his diving accident on May 12, 1956 while testing life preservers. As a complete C5-6-7 quadriplegic, he spent the next few years in rehabilitation and upon returning home to Milwaukee, he met his future wife, Lillian Christianson (Chris), his visiting nurse, who never dated patients. They were married June 3, 1961 in Milwaukee. They visited Chris' sister in Largo, shortly after the wedding, never to return to Wisconsin, settling instead in St. Petersburg, where they lived for over 50 years. They welcomed their daughter, Dana, in March, 1968 who also developed a love for the water.
He graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College in 1966 and University of South Florida, 1968. He received the SPJC's 2006 Outstanding Alumni Award. Wally had a successful 20-year career in the securities industry and later as a successful entrepreneur owning his own casework company as well as numerous consulting companies. His love of music led him to perform with the Alumni Singers for over 25 years. He also served on numerous community advisory boards and accessibility committees. In 1996, he was appointed to the city of St. Petersburg's Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments. The next year, he helped organize the National Alliance of the Disabled. He is profiled in the book, Role Models: People Who Live Successful Lives after Spinal Cord Injuries and How They Do It. Wally was an outspoken advocate for access for the disabled and was very proud of his work with the 'Freedom House' universal design principles in constructing affordable houses for wounded veterans. From curb cuts in sidewalks to the downtown sailing center, his passion for accessibility for the disabled population can be observed. He has been called "a champion of universal home design, with a kind heart, a critical eye and a passion for excellence." He was proud of the progress made in his lifetime. He was awarded the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 as the World's Longest Living Quadriplegic and many other civic awards, too numerous to list. He truly made a difference in this world, providing support and encouragement to many.
Wally is predeceased by his parents, and wife, Lillian. He is survived by his daughter, Dana Dutcher May and her husband, Richard; granddaughters, Taylor and Cami of Houston, TX; sister, Margaret Dutcher and her husband, Mike Hughes of Elgin, IL; sister, Dorothy Triplett of Jackson, MS and nieces, Carrie (Al) Boyko, Alison Larkin (Donny Gordon), Lynnea (Stephen) West and nephews, Christopher Larkin, Jay (Jen) Krienitz.
A Celebration of Life will be on Wally's birthday, Sept. 30, at Anderson McQueen Family Tribute Center, 2201 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N., St. Petersburg, 33704. The family will receive friends for gathering from 10:30 am until the service at 11 am. To share condolences with the family, please visit Wally's guestbook at: www.andersonmcqueen.com