Walter Crafts Jr., 86, of Lewes passed away Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes. He was born Nov. 3, 1934, in Flushing, N.Y., son of the late Walter and Suzanne (Clifton) Crafts.
Walter spent his childhood years in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He attended the DeVeaux School, a military prep school founded in 1852 and administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. Walter first attended Oberlin College in Ohio, and subsequently received a bachelor of science degree in management and production from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. While at Babson, he was a member of the Student Government, the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, and the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity.
Volunteering for the military draft in 1954, Walter became an aircraft and engine mechanic with the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Ft. Knox, Ky., Gary Air Force Base in San Marcos, Texas, Camp Kilmer, N.J., Augsburg, Germany, and Ft. Ord, Calif. While at the Frontier Rubber Company in Niagara Falls, he developed skills in metal machining, arc-welding, oxy-acetylene cutting, and molding rubber products. Working for the High Energy Fuels Division of the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation in Niagara Falls, Walter became a tabulating machine operator, and subsequently a computer programmer and systems analyst, developing administrative payroll and inventory applications.
After taking the Federal Service Entrance Exam in 1961, Walter began work for the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C., as a public utilities specialist in stocks, bonds and investments. Shifting into the telecommunications area, he became an analyst working on the initial stages of the Bell System divestiture. Transferring to the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, Md., Walter specialized in SSA's voice communications requirements, preparing and justifying budget requests, writing and evaluating telephone system requests for proposals, and writing regulatory policy and directives for SSA to purchase, install and manage its communications systems. He developed algorithms for sizing SSA's nationwide call centers in the absence of traffic study data. Walter was the first to run Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf conversations through automatic call distributors and served as a consultant to other federal agencies and private industry.
In Baltimore, Walter was a Scoutmaster of Boy Scouts of America Troop 336 at St. Agnes Church for three years. Retiring to Lewes, he was able to continue a lifelong love of sailing. His first unsupervised night watch at 11 years of age was on a 40-foot "R" Class sloop, traveling west from Youngstown, N.Y., to Hamilton, Ontario. In Lewes, Walter acquired an 18-foot catboat, which he sailed solo to Cape May several times. His first major boat purchase while living in Washington, D.C., had been a Columbia 31. More recently, he was a partner on an Ericsson 27.
Above all, Walter cherished time spent with those he held most dear, and was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend. He was loved by many and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
Walter is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Beth Crafts of Lewes; his son, Walter "Mike" Crafts of Los Angeles, Calif.; his daughter, Susan Spencer and her husband Jason of Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.; his granddaughters: Maria Eduarda and Abigail Elizabeth of Redondo Beach, Calif.; and his sister, Suzanne Crafts of E. Boothbay, Maine. Walter is also survived by his nieces: Louisa and Susanna; and his nephew, Joseph; along with five grand-nieces and -nephews, and one great-grand-niece.
Services will be private. Arrangements have been entrusted to Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, Lewes.
Please visit Walter's Life Memorial Webpage and sign his online guestbook at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.