Henry Walter, 19, passes away unexpectedly
THE SANTA CLARA
March 31, 2016
Santa Clara sophomore Henry Walter, 19, passed unexpectedly away on March 6. Walter was known for his brilliance, kind personality and individuality.
Friends and family shared memories of Walter, who was two months away from his twentieth birthday, during his memorial service at Mission Santa Clara on March 15.
Born on May 1, 1996, Walter grew up in Cupertino and attended Miller Middle School and Lynbrook High School. Having a strong passion for math and science, he came to Santa Clara and decided to major in computer engineering.
Sophomore Matthew Marks described Walter as incredibly curious, honest and accepting of people that were different from him.
“He had a very particular laugh that would make everyone else laugh because it was so contagious,” said sophomore Sai Panneerselvam, who attended middle and high school with Walter.
His friends remembered Walter for his calm and gentle presence, which made others feel at ease.
“When I was around Henry, I always felt at peace,” said freshman Cole LaPolla, who was friends with Walter. “He was so easy to talk to and no matter what his quiet demeanor and voice, always made any anxiety or stress go away. He was so calm and was always willing to listen to others instead of always trying to always talk.”
Although Walter was a quiet person, Marks said he was very friendly.
“He showed me that even the more introverted people that take a little more time to get to know are just as interesting and valuable as outgoing or extroverted people,” Marks said.
Walter was a member of the Unity RLC. Sarita Tamayo-Moraga, faculty director of Unity RLC, said his presence was always comforting. She loved passing him in the hallway because Walter would always greet her and ask how she was doing.
Graduate student Karen Salas, the spirituality director for Unity RLC, said that her favorite memory of Walter was the last time she saw him—he was standing at the front desk in Unity RLC and his face immediately lit up as soon as he saw her.
“He had the biggest smile on his face, and I remember how happy it made me to see him so happy,” Salas said. “Even though it was a brief interaction, I think that’s the effect Henry had on others who knew him—he spread happiness by sharing his smile with others.”
Walter was known for his adept coding skills. He always lent a hand to his friends when they needed help with programming.
“He truly enjoyed exploring the field and the art of mathematics for himself,” Marks said. “Apparently Henry would even give his dad, Mr. Walter, who works at Google, a few tips from time to time about a particular programming language.”
In senior year of high school, Walter was one of the only students in the country to score 100 percent on the AP Computer Science exam—a monumental feat.
“I don’t even think he took the class,” Panneerselvam said.
Walter was an incredibly talented fencer and competed at a national level in high school. He loved listening to old, funky music, especially classic rock.
He enjoyed playing video games, and opted to play some of the earliest video games that were created. According to Marks, Walter was even developing his own video game.
Marks recalled his fond memories of playing pool with Walter in the basement of Walsh Residence Hall—he seldom won because Walter loved refining his pool technique.
He was also fluent in German and even traveled to Germany the summer before he started his freshman year at Santa Clara, Panneerselvam said.
He had very long hair that went down his back, a testament to his individuality.
“I think it speaks to his courage to freely express himself in the midst of a culture that is constantly fretting about other people’s’ judgments, however unimportant those opinions maybe,” Marks said.
Panneerselvam said that Walter was never afraid to express his opinions and always embraced his individuality.
“What I want others to remember most about him is that he was not afraid to be himself,” Salas said. “He did things in his unique way, but he stayed true to himself and what was important to him.”
Walter had no siblings and is survived by his parents, Richard and Lilian Walter.
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.