Cos Cob resident works to keep memory of WWII soldiers alive

Walter J. Scherr’s life and legacy has been propelled by the inspiration of those who served and sacrificed during World War II, a time when Scherr himself desperately wanted to fight for his country but could not.

Born in Queens in 1924, Scherr was not quite old enough to join the Army when the U.S. entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Six months later, Scherr went straight from his high school graduation to the local enlistment office, expecting to make his heroic mark on the war. Instead, he was stopped in his tracks with a diagnosis of active tuberculosis, a disease that was incurable at the time. Young Scherr was quarantined in a sanatorium for the next seven years, while all of his peers selflessly served their country—some making the ultimate sacrifice.

Though he got a late start, Scherr had a successful career as a corporate executive and entrepreneur, helping introduce the fax machine worldwide and making groundbreaking advancements in data storage. Scherr met Mother Teresa, traveled the world, gained, lost, and regained a fortune.

When Scherr began to write his autobiography, Walter’s Way: How a Relief Kid Survived TB, Corporate Betrayal, Bankruptcy, Made Millions, and Touched the Lives of Billions, he was compelled to honor the caretakers of the world, like those who cared for him during his years in a sanatorium, and the World War II service members who have so inspired him. Scherr began to look for someone from his childhood neighborhood of Ozone Park who gave his life during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. It was important to Scherr to form a personal connection to tragedy of the war.

Scherr found Pvt. Francis Nelson Bowen, who was living in Ozone Park, just like Scherr, when he enlisted in the Army. Bowen was engaged to Ada Murphy when he went overseas to fight with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He never came home. Serving as a medic, Bowen died trying to save the life of another paratrooper. He left behind his parents, older brother Harold, “Harry,” and sister, Gertrude, “Sissy.”

At age 90, Scherr traveled to the beaches of Normandy and the American cemetery there, to pay his respects at Bowen’s grave. In Walter’s Way, Scherr honored Bowen by prominently featuring his story.

This spring, through the connections of social media, Scherr was able to meet Ginger Rica, the daughter of Bowen’s sister and niece he never got to meet. The two met at Scherr’s residence in Naples, Florida.

This Memorial Day, Scherr joins the nation in honoring all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect American freedoms. He is proud to continue honoring Pvt. Francis Bowen, and he hopes more people seek to learn the stories of those who died for our country.

Scherr lives in Cos Cob, CT, with his daughter, and dedicates many of his resources to the support of The Center for Discovery, an internationally-renowned treatment center and school for children and adults with complex medical conditions. The Vera and Walter J. Scherr Hurleyville Maker’s Lab in Hurleyville, N.Y., was primarily funded by the Vera and Walter Scherr Family Foundation, and supports innovation and creativity in the small Catskills town. All proceeds of Walter’s Way are donated to The Center for Discovery. This summer, Scherr is working with the 82nd Airborne Division to increase educational support for its troops.

Walter Scherr

Walter Scherr

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