Memorial services will be at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City with a time of visitation one hour prior to the service. Inurnment will take place following the service at Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch. Online condolences can be sent to Walter's family through the web at www.gayandciha.com.
Walter was born Feb. 9, 1924, on the family farm in Lake Preston, S.D., to Ellen (Augustsen) and Henry Johansen. During the Depression, the family lost their farm, and Walter traveled with his family to California.
His father passed away in California, leaving his mother with two young children. She remarried and Walter was raised by his mother and stepfather, Martin Miller. He graduated from Compton High School in California.
After graduation he heard the call to defend home and country from the menace sweeping across Europe. He fought bravely in Italy, earning a Bronze Star for valor. He was discharged from service as a first lieutenant on June 4, 1946.
While attending California Polytechnic Institute, he re-entered service to again fight with American forces in Korea. At the conclusion of the war he was again awarded a Bronze Star for valor, and entered the Reserves. He retired from the Reserves as a captain in 1960.
He moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa, obtaining a degree in civil engineering in 1955. While there, he met Mary Lou (Diddy) Kringel (daughter of Cora and Carl Kringel), working at the University of Iowa president's office. They were married on Dec. 31, 1955.
They moved to Wood River, Ill., where Walter served as the city engineer. Later they moved to Champaign, where Walter worked for Clark, Daily and Dietz Engineers. He completed his career as the vice president of Daily and Associates Engineering in Champaign.
Walter was a 32nd Degree Mason, a past Watchman of Shepherds of White Shrine of Jerusalem, and a past Worthy Patron of Eastern Star. He also sang in the Champaign Barbershop Chorus. He did his political duty by serving a term on the Champaign County Board of Supervisors. He was an active member of the Urbana First United Methodist Church.
Upon retirement, Walter and Mary Lou moved to Iowa City. There he worked part time at Shoemaker and Haaland Engineering. He was a member of Hope United Methodist Church. He was a longtime volunteer at the Herbert Hoover Library in West Branch and the Iowa City Veterans Hospital.
Walter loved gardening at his house in the historic Longfellow School neighborhood. He also loved doing carpentry work around his house, a skill he learned from his stepfather.
His final months were spent at Silvercrest Assisted Living in Davenport, Iowa, the city where his daughter lives. He faced his struggle with cancer as bravely as he fought as a soldier. His friendly attitude won him many friends.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou of Davenport, Iowa; a daughter, Patricia Johansen, pastor of Tuscola United Methodist Church, her husband, Mike Crawford and children Kara and Mark; a son, David Johansen, professor of trombone at Southeastern Louisiana University; his wife, Janiece Luedeke Johansen, and son, Ethan; and daughter, Christina Johansen Kastell, Putnam Museum Curator. His legacy of his family, well-designed roads and bridges, and those whose lives he touched will live on.
Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service in Iowa City is caring for Walter's family and his arrangements.