Voyle M. Walters; 1917-2013: D-Day vet oversaw area’s golf grounds


Voyle M. Walters, a longtime greenskeeper and superintendent for northwest Ohio golf courses who with his wife, Melvene, owned a Swanton flower shop, died Thursday in Lakes of Monclova skilled nursing facility in Monclova Township. He was 96.

He had an apparent heart attack just before Thanksgiving and was in failing health since, his granddaughter Jennifer Grabarczyk said.

He was hired by Heather Downs Country Club, his first golf course job, after finishing eighth grade at Spencer Sharples School. He returned from Army service in World War II and worked at, in turn, Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania; Valleywood Golf Club in Swanton, and Hillcrest Golf Club in Findlay — a 28-year career of keeping grounds and playing surfaces in top shape.

Club members and professionals knew him well. In July, 1961, ahead of the annual Toledo Open golf championship, his skills were touted in public. “The course is in the finest condition in years,” Herman Lang, Highland Meadows professional, told Tom Bolger, The Blade’s sports editor. “And I believe our greenskeeper, Voyle Walters, rates a mention for doing a terrific job.”

Mr. Walters researched proper chemical and equipment use. He took certification courses. “He took a lot of pride in how the courses looked and the reputation he was honored with,” his granddaughter said.

He and his wife, a longtime florist, bought her employer’s business, Swanton Flower Shop, in 1972. His wife operated the business, renamed Walters Flowers, while he helped with deliveries and other tasks. Their daughter Cheri worked for them, and, in 1987, she and her husband, Bob Lovejoy, bought the shop. It was sold in 2001 and has since closed.

He was born Oct. 15, 1917, to Narah and Albert Walters and grew up in Swanton Township. He was drafted and, with the Army’s 116th Infantry Brigade, took part in the D-Day landing at Normandy. Two days later, he played a part in capturing prisoners of war and anti-aircraft guns. He was shot in the left arm and left with partial paralysis, his granddaughter said, and spent two years in military hospitals. He was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

He was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, Swanton. He and his wife married July 23, 1940. She died May 14, 2012.

Surviving are his daughters, Nancy Roberts and Cheri Lovejoy; son, Dave; twin sister, Violet Barnes; eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. A second son, Terry Walters, preceded him in death.

Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Weigel Funeral Home, Swanton. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Trinity United Methodist Church, Swanton, with visitation starting at 10. The family suggests tributes to the church or Swanton Rescue Unit.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.