My Father Walter Otto Alm had depth and integrity, together with wisdom and an even temperament.
Wal will be long remembered and respected by his family, his colleagues and friends not merely for what he achieved, but for the person he was.
My father Walter Otto Alm was killed in a car accident on November 5, 1976 just 2 weeks short of his 52nd birthday. Many asked why a man like Wal, such a committed, humble man, who was so widely known and well-respected, and who had contributed so much to his own church, his Alma Mater and the wider community in general, was taken at such a young age. My father was a friend and mentor to many. He had depth and integrity, together with wisdom and an even temperament. Many called on him, and Wal gave his time unselfishly.
Walter Otto Alm was born on November 19, 1924 at the Blyth District Hospital in South Australia, the second child of Max and Meta Alm. Baptised in the Lutheran Church at Condowie, Wal grew up in Brinkworth and attended the local primary school. His secondary education was as a boarder at Immanuel College in North Adelaide, where he was elected Head Prefect and was Dux in 1941, his Leaving year (Year 11).
Thus began a long and loyal association with Immanuel College. As an old scholar, Wal was involved in fundraising when the college moved to Novar Gardens, helping to organise the annual garden parties. He was president of the Immanuel College Old Scholar’s Association (ICOSA) for many years from 1948, and served as President of the Chapel Design Committee and subsequently the Chapel Building Committee during the development of the Immanuel College chapel. At the time of his death, Wal was a serving member of the Immanuel College Board.
Wal’s tertiary education was at the University of Adelaide from 1942-45, from where he graduated with a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating he was employed by Lightburns before joining the Department of Civil Aviation as an engineer. During this period he married Avis Kuchel at St Stephens Church in Adelaide, which became his home congregation.
As well as being actively involved in all aspects of the congregation at St Stephens, serving on its Education committee and as deputy Sunday School superintendent for several years, Wal was committed to the Evangelism program of the church, frequently visiting other congregations in this capacity. He strongly supported the amalgamation of the two Lutheran Churches in 1966, and fought for fair and just salary increases for pastors and church leaders through his position as secretary of the Salaries Commission. The district and national church also benefited by Wal’s service in leadership roles on various committees, including the Church Development Board.
After working as an engineer for many years, Wal felt that he could better use his professional talents in assisting others to plan for the financial security of their family in the event of the breadwinner dying prematurely. So after much soul-searching, he relinquished his career as an engineer in 1960 and joined Legal and General Life Assurance Company, working for the rest of his life as a life assurance underwriter.
In addition to his service to the Lutheran Church, Wal was actively involved in community organisations. He was a member (and President) of Norwood Rotary Club, and the Rotary District Governor’s Representative during the formation of the Burnside Rotary Club. In recognition of his services to Rotary, Wal was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow posthumously.
Wal will be long remembered and respected by his family, his colleagues and friends not merely for what he achieved, but for the person he was. He was a man with empathy, with generosity and with compassion. He was approachable, tolerant and wise. His love of God directed his life and work, which in turn demonstrated his belief that whatever one’s calling in life, it should be filled with humility and thanks to the Lord.