We are sad to announce that our great friend and generous benefactor to The Center for Discovery, Walter J. Scherr, has passed away at the age of 94. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and are deeply grateful to have known him, and to celebrate the life and legacy of our dear friend.
Walter J. Scherr was a highly successful international businessman who overcame many obstacles throughout his life, through persistence, honor, and commitment. He grew up during the Depression in Ozone Park, Queens, was diagnosed with tuberculosis at a young age, and then quarantined at a large sanitarium for a number of years. Walter never forgot what it meant to be removed from society due to a disability, nor the compassionate care that he received from his caregivers.
Walter has always said that he’s “never worked a day in his life, because he’s enjoyed whatever he’s been involved with.” For Walter, some of that work was helping to raise money on behalf of The Center for Discovery, by spreading the word about what we do here, “so that people all over the world can benefit from our hands-on research and humanistic methods of working with people who have disabilities and complex medial issues.”
His generosity and philanthropy to The Center for Discovery has been profound and instrumental in the growth of our organization throughout the years. Since first being introduced to The Center by Dr. George Todd in 2004, Walter has been a tremendous and wonderfully generous friend and has inspired The Center, along with hundreds of members of the extended TCFD family who have been moved by his remarkable book, Walter’s Way. An autobiography, Walter’s Way, which was dedicated to The Center for Discovery, documents the deep gratitude that Walter felt for the caregivers who first assisted him as a TB patient during the Depression, and to all those who have committed their lives to caring for individuals with complex conditions. In fact, it was in writing this book that reinforced Walter’s conviction that “each of us has a destiny – a special purpose in life to fulfill.”
Subsequently, Walter established the Walter J. Scherr Scholarship Program, which provided tuition assistance for employees of The Center for Discovery, to ensure our organization was able to attract a highly educated and qualified workforce. This program has made an incredibly meaningful difference in the lives of more than 85 employees since its inception. Walter’s legacy gifts to The Center also included his assistance with the purchase of the DR Horton property, a Leadership Gift to expand the Endowment Fund, and the family’s support for the establishment of the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab and Innovation Incubator, as well as the Vera and Walter J. Scherr Maker’s Lab on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
We thank our dear friend, Walter J. Scherr, for being an inspirational and remarkable friend to all of us at The Center for Discovery. We will continue to honor Walter’s legacy in the work we do every day at The Center for Discovery.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation to Walter’s favorite charity – The Center for Discovery, at P.O. Box 840, Harris, NY, 12742. For more information on ways to give, please click here.