Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Remembering Walt

From left: Walt Helmerich III, Billie Barnett, Major Roy Williams, Rik Helmerich.
Along with thousands of other Tulsans, it is with great sadness that I mourn the death of Walt Helmerich III, a lifetime member of The Salvation Army Advisory Board and a friend. The Helmerich family has been a supporter of The Salvation Army for at least 40 years, maybe longer.

I’m told that for many years Walt would pick a day and along with a friend, he would drive to all of the facilities of the Tulsa Area Command, including the six Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs. They would tour the clubs, noting things that needed to be repaired, then Walt would donate the money to have it done. The driving tour was a tradition that Walt started, and in recent years his son Rik, an Advisory Board member, has continued.

While repairs at Boys & Girls Clubs may seem minor compared to other financial support the Helmerich family has provided, it was very meaningful to the Boys & Girls Club staff members to see that someone as important as Walt cared about their needs. In the same spirit of showing support in a personal way, every Christmas Walt and Peggy would attend our Advisory Board Christmas luncheon, whether the temperature was at zero degrees or in the forties.

The Advisory Board Christmas luncheon is always held in the warehouse where all the toys and food are stored. For several years the Helmerich family would let us use a warehouse that they owned, free of charge. This past Christmas luncheon was the first Walt had missed in many years, and we missed him.  Walt and the Helmerich family were among the first supporters of the William Booth Society and the younger family members are continuing the tradition. Every year, Walt and his family would donate the money for at least one table at our annual Booth dinner and attend the event.

While I am grateful to Walt and the Helmerich family for their monetary support, it is his gentlemanly presence and dignity I will always remember. Walt Helmerich III was a man of integrity and honor. I will miss him greatly.

Major Roy Williams, Tulsa Area Commander

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