Walter Pickering Simons was born at home on March 3, 1942 in Hamburg, PA to Sarah Katherine (Pickering) Simons and the Reverend James Alexander Simons. After living in several small towns, they finally settled in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia. He grew up in a large family with three older brothers and many aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived across central Pennsylvania. His fondest childhood memories were of summers spent at their cabin in Virginville, where he fished, rowed a small boat, and watched the water of Maiden Creek go by.
Walter dropped out of high school and finished his education in the United States Army, where he completed a GED and specialist training. His career in military intelligence took him across the US and around the world to Germany, Japan, and finally for service in Cu Chi, Viet Nam from 1968-69 as a member of the 330th Army Security Agency Company, the radio research company supporting the 25th Infantry Division. His exposure to trauma and dioxin left Walter 100% disabled. Throughout the rest of his life, “Waldo” supported other veterans and worked with the American Legion and independently to advocate for servicemen. Most recently, he made the gift of the American Flag and MIA/POW flag that now fly over Rose View Rehabilitation Center in Williamsport.
Walter had a life-long love of learning and the arts. He was an avid stamp collector who designed and drew original commemorative postal covers. His creative work spanned more than five decades and includes covers signed by presidents and celebrities; the collection totals more than 20,000 individual works, influenced by his love of artists including M.C. Escher, Maxfield Parrish, Peter Max, and Banksy. Walter truly enjoyed music, especially Dylan and the Beatles, but his taste ranged from Rimsky-Korsakov to Shaggy. He read extensively and his personal library was eclectic, including military history, philosophy, and a little of everything from physics to poetry. He could talk with you about Edgar Cayce, R.D. Laing, the secrets of the pyramids, quantum entanglement, or the lyrics to Madame George. His curiosity, brilliance, creativity, and the joy of talking about big ideas stayed with him to his last day.
Walter loved libraries and the Internet, which opened new worlds of information to him and allowed him to travel to the places he’d never seen. For decades, he researched his family history, following his ancestry back thirteen generations and sharing data that is now published in multiple sources. He made friends with the staff of local historical societies, other genealogists, and researchers abroad. He preserved stories, photos, and records from small churches as he pursued this interest. His interest in Roswell and Machu Picchu, and love of the Great Smoky Mountains was made possible by many hours of watching movies and YouTube.
Walter sought the peace and quiet of the outdoors. He enjoyed gardening, mowing, driving his tractor, watching the stars, or just sitting on the porch with a glass of tea. For several years, he lived in St. Petersburg, FL, and there he met and married Sheila Marie Garner. The day they married, he quit drinking and smoking; he remained sober for 48 years. They raised two daughters together in their home in Dornsife, PA and divorced after 27 years of marriage.
Walter married Julie L. Buck in 2006, and they lived together in Turbotville. With her, he enjoyed many happy years watching movies, grilling, and sharing meals with family. And Walt loved to eat. Whether it was shrimp stir fry, hard pretzels, or just fries and a chocolate frosty, the simple joy of good food was part of him.
He deeply loved his family and friends and was generous and helpful to everyone. He loved to laugh, flirt, tell a joke, and to have an audience. He would happily sit with a small child or little dog in his lap and tell an unsuspecting visitor a tale of conspiracy and fantasy. He delighted in well-used profanity and could find the irony and humor in any moment. For the last two years of his life, Walt was a resident at the Rose View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where he continued to make friends and contemplate life.
Walter passed quietly from this world into the infinite on December 19, 2020. He never stopped appreciating the people who cared for him, never lost his will to do things his way, and never believed that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. He was preceded in death by his parents; aunts and uncles: Agnes and Mary Ann Simons, and Edward, Rhys, Rebecca (Reba), and Ralph Pickering; his brothers: James P. Simons and William W. Simons; granddaughter Robin Elizabeth Davis; and his infant son, Thomas Walter Simons. He will be remembered, missed, and loved always by his wife, Julie Simons; step-son Bradley C. Frederick; daughters Mary Katherine “Katie” Davis (Andrew) of Chickasha, OK and April Louise Whistler (Jason) of Watsontown, PA; brother John P. Simons of Los Angeles; nephews James, John Walter, and Matthew Simons; great-nieces and nephews, many good friends and dogs he loved, and his grandson, Luke Andrew Davis with whom he shared a special love of baseball, fishing, and watermelon.
In accordance with his wishes, there will be no funeral service or memorial. His remains will be interred with the Simons Family in the Irish Valley United Methodist Church Cemetery in Paxinos, PA . The family welcomes sharing your memories of him.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Brooks Funeral Home and Cremation Svc, PC, 207 Broadway Street, Turbotville.
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