Michael Walter volunteered in his parish, helping to count the collection just like his dad did for 25 years. Michael and his wife Mary raised three daughters in Arkansas and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he was a program budget analyst. After he retired all-civilian after 26 years—four of those in military service—he began to seek opportunities that he could help with when he wasn’t helping his parents or grandchildren.
In 2010, Michael visited St. Michael Indian School after having interview calls with then SMIS president Sister Kathleen Kajer, SBS. He learned of the school from the information he gathered online. Welcomed onto campus, Michael quickly bonded with the buildings and grounds team and got to work assisting with insulating the high school.
“It was the first time I volunteered away from home, and it was a little nerve-racking at first. But, then it was hard work. When I was ready to leave in August, I hadn’t thought of returning. But then at my going away party Sister held for me, the guys asked me to come back. I went back the next summer. Now I’ve come back every summer for 10 years.” Mary eventually began to accompany him, and she understands why he comes back. She added that the “school is so beautiful, especially the buildings and the landscape. I’ve never seen a sunset like it. I know why he keeps coming to the school. The friends he has made here are special to him and us.”
“I realize now that I’m supposed to be here at the school. Mary supports my time away, and my whole family knows I go to Arizona from June to August. Having gone through Catholic school education for 12 years, I have a fondness for this place. Being here reminds me of my childhood and how important school was to me. It was a good memory, and I hope the work I do here helps make it special for the children who attend here.”
This past November, Michael was honored at the first annual Drexel Dinner in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was named the 2019 recipient of the Saint Francis of Assisi Service Award from SMIS in recognition of his longtime service.