Walter Asa Saunders, Jr.
Walter Asa Saunders, Jr., beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away peacefully early Sunday, the 25th of April 2021, at Brazos Towers at Bayou Manor in Houston.
He was born on the 20th of June 1936, in Corpus Christi, Texas, the son of Walter and Miriam Matlock Saunders. Walter was educated in public schools graduating 1954 from Roy Miller High School, where he served as the manager of the football team.
Walter enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin in September of 1954, studying accounting. He continued his dedication to football as manager of the Texas Longhorns all four years, including his senior year under the coaching of Darrell Royal.
In addition to his activities with the Longhorns, he was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He served as chaplain which resulted in his meeting of his future wife Mary Lelia Crain Saunders. The two met at a Baptist Student Union social and were married after graduation in 1958, a marriage that lasted almost 54 years until Mary Lelia's passing in 2012.
Walter served in the Air Force ROTC. He was a member of the National Society of Scabbard and Blade, the ROTC National Honor Society where he was named as outstanding ROTC student four years in a row. He also belonged to the Friar Society, Silver Spurs, and Beta Sigma Gamma.
He continued his support of UT as a Life member of Texas Exes and the Longhorn Foundation. In addition, Walter served on the Chancellor's Council, and the President's Advisory Council.
Immediately after his marriage, Walter began his career in the Air Force, serving for five years in Malden, Missouri, Waco, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina. He achieved the rank of Captain as a navigator & radar intercept officer on the F101B Voodoo fighter jet serving in the 444th fighter interceptor squadron while in Charleston.
Upon returning from the Air Force, Walter and his family moved to Houston where Walter began his career with Peat Marwick Mitchell now KPMG. Gray Wakefield was a strong influence on this young accountant. Walter passed the CPA exam in 1963. Over the years, he enjoyed working with and forming lifelong friendship with Frank Maresh, Bill Suttle, Gene Stover, Austin Young, and many others. Walter became a Partner, retiring in 1986. He then joined United Savings of Texas as Senior VP of Internal Audit. Walter moved to American General Corporation now AIG as head of Internal Audit and remained there until retirement in 2000.
During his lifetime in Houston, Walter was a member of many organizations, including the Houston Club, Plaza Club, Briar Club, Colonneh Club, American Institutes of CPAs, Texas Society of CPAs, Certified Texas Public Accountants, Houston Chapter of the Texas Society of CPAs, Institute of Internal Auditors, and was active on the Committee to audit the Texas State Auditor's office in 1972. Walter received his MBA from the University of Houston.
Walter became a member of the University Area Rotary club in 1974, a membership lasting 47 years. He served as President, Treasurer of Rotary District 9 from 1987 to 1988 and was a Paul Harris Fellow. Walter was also a Master Mason of Holland Lodge No. 1 and a 32nd degree of Scottish Rite, York Rite, Sir Knight Templar and a Noble of the Arabian Shrine Temple.
Walter enjoyed his fellowship at St. Paul's United Methodist Church for over 50 years. He and his wife were members of the Candlelighters Sunday School Class since 1965. He was honored to serve as President of that class twice. He served the Church as a Treasurer, a member of the Board of Trustees and President of the St. Paul's Foundation. He developed many great friendships at St. Paul's.
Walter had a lifelong passion for learning and enjoyed airplanes and aviation, railroads and model railroads, cameras, reading books, travel, automobiles and car shows, technology and electronics and, above all else, the University of Texas Longhorns. He was a football fan with season tickets for over 55 years including the Rose Bowl. He passed his love of the Longhorns on to his children and grandchildren. If you are with a Saunders, you are never far from a "Hook'em."
Above all, Walter will be remembered for his loyalty, his generosity, his playful sense of humor and sly, winking smile. He had a rare ability to connect with anyone and converse on just about any topic.
Walter's pride and joy were his family and friends. He is survived by his two sons and their families: Walter Saunders III and his wife, Peggy of Atlanta, Georgia, and their children: Travis William Saunders, Atlanta, Georgia; Emily Saunders, Richmond, Virginia; Lauren Saunders, Atlanta, Georgia. Son, Crain Saunders and his wife, Lisa, of Charlottesville, Virginia and their children: Aaron Saunders and wife Meredith, Roanoke, Virginia; Anna Saunders, Huntington, West Virginia and Aidan Saunders, Charlottesville, Virginia. Additionally, he is survived by his sister, Jane Gore, of Dallas, Texas, and her family.
The family would like to thank the many doctors who provided for our father during his final years including Drs. Norman Berkman, Kim Bloom, Gopi Shah, Andy Ahuja, John Bertini, Tom Nichols, and Greg McLauchlin.
In his final year, Walter was supported by a staff of very devoted and loving caregivers - Ruthann Zuchniewicz, Sheila House, Elizabeth Harris, and Lola Abubakar. They were there with us at the end.
The family appreciates the staff of Houston Hospice, which helped our father in his final transition.
The memorial service is to be conducted at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon on Saturday, the 19th of June, in the Sanctuary of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, donations may be directed to the St. Paul's Methodist Foundation, 5501 S. Main St. Houston, TX, 77004; to the University of Texas Foundation, 9011 Mountain Ridge Dr. Suite 150, Austin, TX, 78759; to Houston Hospice, 1905 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX, 77030; or to the charity of your choice
Please visit Mr. Saunders' online memorial tribute at GeoHLewis.com
where memories and words of comfort and condolence may be shared electronically with his family.
Published by Houston Chronicle on Jun. 13, 2021.