Newport News —Walter S. Segaloff died Sunday morning, August 18 leaving a gigantic hole in the fabric of the Virginia Peninsula, the Commonwealth and arguably the nation. While we may never fill that void, Walter’s lifetime of rich and meaningful accomplishments has created a roadmap to guide us to make our lives richer and our community stronger and more caring.
Walter would tell you he was guided by a few simple principals—
• Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
• It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty not to begin.
• Doing the right thing for the right reason will invariably produce good things.
• Right makes might – truth to power.
• “Never, never, never give up.”
• Make your life count.
• One person can make a difference.
• Never again.
Walter counts as his most significant contributions the following:
• His early involvement in the state of Israel. This began in 1949 when he worked his way to Israel on a boat carrying 2,000 cows, landing in Haifa with the city ablaze from Syrian bombings the night before. For the next 30 years, he was intensely involved with life-long friends in supporting the birth and growth of Israel through active fundraising and in a variety of other ways—a commitment that continued until the day he died.
• His co-chair of the “Coming Home Proud” event. For this event, the airport was closed for a day so that a venue would be available to allow 80,000 citizens to honor the Gulf Soldiers—and most importantly to Walter, to properly honor our Vietnam Veterans who had received no welcome home 20 years before. Walter was an unabashed patriot, who dearly loved his country and deeply respected those who had sacrificed to serve it.
• His establishing and guiding An Achievable Dream. This private-public partnership pioneered a model program that wrapped a social and moral focus around the educational curriculum, proving that all children could learn and succeed. An Achievable Dream was born from Walter’s core principals and nurtured by the deep involvement of the military, the business community and his fellow citizens— a perfect marriage of all that Walter believed makes this country great.
One would think a list that describes these significant achievements would tell the story. It doesn’t begin to chronicle all Walter has meant to our community, state and country and to so many of us individually. Walter’s influence will long be felt in so many areas where he made a difference. These include his efforts to end segregation, to his life-long commitment to fight against religious and racial discrimination, his vision for CNU’s Real Estate Foundation, and the wise counsel he gave almost every project of substance and scope on the Peninsula. Equally important are the hundreds of acts of kindness Walter performed or caused to happen.
Listing the awards and recognition Walter received during this lifetime is the subject of a six-page typed resume. Suffice it to say, Walter was the recipient of every significant and major award our community and beyond has to offer. At every turn Walter was embarrassed by awards because he felt keenly that it was his obligation to “do the right things for the right reasons,” and what he accomplished could not have been accomplished except with the help and support of others.
Walter is survived by his wife, Ann, his two sons and their wives, David and Judy, and Peter and Deborah, his sister, Blanche Rabinowitz, his three stepchildren, Rick, Megan and Chris Robinson, and his seven grandchildren, Avi, Hannah, Ben, Sholom, Eli, Sabine and Emma, for all of whom he cared deeply.
Funeral services were held at Rodef Sholom Temple, Hampton with Rabbi Gilah Dror and Rabbi Steven Lindemann officiating. Burial followed at the Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula.
Walter’s wish was that each of us contribute to support the annual fund of An Achievable Dream or otherwise make a difference in a charitable cause of your own choosing.