With sadness we announce the death of David Franklin Walther, longtime resident of Concord, MA, who passed away peacefully on May 2, 2023.
On August 28, 1938, David Franklin Walther, only and beloved child of Louise (Olsen) and Daniel Gottlieb Walther, was born in Geneva, Switzerland. In the hot summer of 1941, as Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were secretly hammering out the Atlantic Charter, Hitler was tearing Europe apart and beginning his assault on Russia. David’s parents, reading the newspapers and speaking urgently with friends, realized they must hammer out their own strategy–to flee to the United States. After a trying land journey, they took the last boat out of the Italian port city of Brindisi.
Leaving their home in Switzerland, the Walthers settled in Takoma Park, MD, and David showed great aptitude in academics. He worked as a soda jerk in high school and entered Columbia Union College in Washington DC in 1957. 1961 found him attending Andrews University in Michigan, where he earned a Master’s degree in Medieval History; from there he attended Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Loma Linda, California, graduating with his MD in 1965.
Although they were family friends for many years, David did not ask young Sally Jo to marry him until 1963. They wed in the Takoma Park, MD Adventist Church and moved to Los Angeles as David finished his medical degree at Loma Linda. In 1966, with new baby Erika in tow, the trio traveled to Ivory Coast, West Africa for two years as David worked in the United States Public Health Service, detailed to the US Peace Corps. Upon returning home he did residencies at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC, and the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston, MA. 1970 saw the birth of his second daughter, Hilary.
After a residency in Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, he moved to his permanent position at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA in 1973. Here his two sons, David Jr. and Ryan came into the world in 1974 and 1978 respectively. David served as a dedicated radiologist for 35 years.
Restless by nature, David loved traveling and he would get on a bus or plane without even bothering to learn where it was going. Through the Peace Corps, David combined his passion for the medical arts with his love for other cultures: he served as a Peace Corps physician in the Ivory Coast, Chad, and Swaziland. Throughout the rest of his career, he used his medical skills to help those in need in several locations including Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Part of him never left his home country, Switzerland; in particular the numinous mountains surrounding Geneva grounded him throughout his life. Mont Salève, with its musical cowbells, giant grasshoppers and electrifying wind, Lake Geneva shimmering in the distance, called to him to the end of his days.
David was an ardent lover of classical music. He savored hearing world-class music in an intimate setting and was a devoted member of the Harvard Musical Association in Boston. Combining his medical skill with his passion for music, he volunteered as staff physician on several of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra’s tours to Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Chile.
Mercurial and witty, and at times inconveniently uncooperative, David’s playful manner was unique and unpredictable. We will discuss for many years to come: which of his children has inherited his contrariness? That famous frown? And which of his grandchildren will enjoy his sociability and charm? His fierce intelligence?
David is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Sally Jo of Sanibel, FL; his daughter Erika Louise and son-in-law Dan Doherty of Seattle, WA, and their children Sam and Abby; his daughter Hilary Elizabeth and son-in-law Duncan Cumming of Rensselaer, NY, and their children Lucy, Mairi and Bear; son David Franklin Jr. and daughter-in-law Violet Son of Santa Monica, CA, and their three children Logan, Cassidy and Jackson; son Ryan Eastman and daughter-in-law Ronit Kobrinski of Columbia Falls, MT, and their three children Yosi, Olin and Aya.
David endured personality-altering debilitating dementia for the last years of his life. Heartfelt thanks to David and Sally’s friends, and the many kind and capable people at Shell Point in Fort Myers, Florida, who supported all of us so patiently through these challenging years.
Friends and family will gather to honor and celebrate David’s life at the Trinitarian Congregational Church at 54 Walden Street in Concord, MA, on Thursday, June 29th, at 10 am.
To view the livestream for David's memorial service, please visit the link below:
Livestream Link (Zoom): https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88064244341
Meeting ID: 880 6424 4341
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in David’s memory to Concord Academy, 166 Main Street, Concord, MA 01742: https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/23514/donations/new. Gifts in David's memory for a musical cause can be made to the New England Conservatory: https://necmusic.edu/give. Donations honoring David’s passion for international health initiatives can be sent to The Sharing Foundation, PO Box 600, Concord, MA 01742: https://sharingfoundation.org/donate-2/.
Arrangements under the care of Concord Funeral Home, 74 Belknap Street, Concord, MA 01742 978-369-3388 www.concordfuneral.com.