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Dean R. Walter



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Father, Fisherman, and HMO Pioneer

Dean R. Walter, 65, a devoted father, avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and a pioneer of the first health maintenance organizations (HMO) in America, drowned Sunday, July 12, while caught in a rip tide at the Pony Pens beach on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

Dean lived for the past six months in his beloved Connecticut on Taunton Hill Road in Newtown along with his 67-year-old brother, Dale N. Walter. With the COVID-19 crisis temporarily suspending his usual work selling art and antiques, he devoted a lot of time to fishing, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. He was joined in many of his adventures by brother Dale and lifelong friends from Easton and Redding, including on a recent deep-sea fishing trip out of Hampton Harbor, New Hampshire.

A 1972 graduate of Joel Barlow High School, Redding, Dean went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., and a master’s degree in public health administration from American University in Washington, D.C. Early in his career, he worked at the National Institutes of Health in helping to develop guidelines for the nation’s first HMOs and preferred provider organizations. He then switched to the private sector, helping companies such as Humana and Cigna establish HMO and PPO networks, rising to the rank of vice president with one firm.

For the past decade, he pursued his passion for selling arts, antiques, and other collectibles throughout the northeast. The flea markets and shows he worked at ranged from the Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford to the upper East Side of Manhattan to Lambertsville, N.J. A caring soul, he volunteered for charitable groups that served the poor in the greater Philadelphia area when he lived in that region, and devoted many Thanksgivings and Christmases to serving meals in soup kitchens.

Survivors include Dean’s beloved children, Ella Walter, 18, of Washington, D.C., and his son Jackson, 30, of Easton, Md.; his father, Richard Walter, 97, and his wife, Joan, of Melbourne, Fla.; nieces Zoe and Grace Walter, of Newtown, and their mother, Jean Griffin; uncle, Bobbie Walter of Alabama; cousins, Donny and Jennifer Walter of North Carolina, as well as Carole Ann, Mark, and Paul Heinemann of South Carolina, Florida, and Texas, respectively; former wives, Sheila Walter and Johanna Walter; brother, Dale, and his girlfriend, Katie Stergue; and many friends. Dean’s mother, Helen Nicholas Walter, died in 1987.

Funeral arrangements and cremation were handled by the Twiford Funeral Home, Manteo, N.C. Plans are underway for a private memorial service for family and friends. Those fond of Dean can best honor his memory by enjoying the Cathedral of Nature, staying in close, loving communion with family and friends, and taking faith in the God of their own understanding.

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