1915 - 1972
Alfred Walters was a beloved and legendary figure in music at La Sierra College, now La Sierra University. A superb violinist, inspiring teacher, and insightful director of the school's orchestra, he was known as a compassionate person who was devoted to music and his students and unusually successful in developing relationships with others.
Alfred was born in Tonawanda, New York, the second oldest of six children of Harvey C., a music teacher, and Maria F. Montoro Walters, a native of Italy. Music was a central activity in the family; an older brother, Peter Louis, a pianist, graduated from the New England Conservatory and played as a soloist with the Boston Symphony in 1935, and a younger brother, Robert W. (Bob), played in a popular dance band in the 1940s.
Although Alfred started piano at age five, he switched to violin after hearing Fritz Kreisler, famed violinist of the time, who inspired him with his playing and the observation that Alfred would become a great musician. Following graduation from the high school in Tonawanda he gave lessons to interested students when the school offered free lessons as it sought to develop its orchestra.
Walters received a degree in music and psychology at State Teachers College in Fredonia, New York, in 1940 and married Margaret Louise Schulz in July. Two years later he was hired to teach at Atlantic Union College, where he chaired the music program, directed the choir, band, and orchestra, and taught violin, piano, and wind instruments. During that first year he wrote the music for the senior class song and at the end of the year played piano for graduation marching and was violin soloist for the graduation service. While at AUC he completed an M.Mus. at Boston University in 1946.
He was invited to teach at La Sierra College in southern California the following year. Walters was 32 when he arrived on campus in the fall of 1947, and although his initial assignment was to teach violin and direct the orchestra at LSC, he also assumed leadership of the band at the end of his first year when its director left. Even though he quickly gained popularity in this role, it would prove to be an interim appointment that ended five years later because of the string program's rapid growth.
For the remainder of his career, Walters taught violin, directed the orchestra, and performed often, giving countless concerts in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He directed the General Conference Session orchestra and served as music coordinator for those meetings in 1966 and 1971. At the time of his death, he was in charge of developing string programs in the Southern California Conference’s elementary schools and academies and was director of the Loma Linda University Orchestra (La Sierra College and LLU had merged five years earlier, a union that continued until 1990).
Through the years at LSC, Walters became known for his artistry on the violin and the polished, musical performances of his orchestras. He enjoyed playing table tennis and growing roses and was known for his enthusiasm and wit, "the quickest wit on campus," according to the 1960 yearbook. His colleagues enjoyed working with him and the students knew him affectionately as "Prof Walters." They dedicated the 1957 yearbook to him with the following inscription:
TO ONE WHO IS A CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN
A Rare artist An Inspiring teacher A True friend
TO ONE WHO IS COURAGEOUS
Completely unselfish Devoted to duty
TO ONE WHO HAS RARE UNDERSTANDING
Keen wit A kind heart
TO ALFRED WALTERS, OUR "PROF"
We dedicate the 1957 Meteor
Walters was living in San Bernardino, California, when he died at age 57. An Alfred Walters Scholarship is now awarded to LSU students who plan to teach music in Adventist schools.
Sources: U.S. Federal Census Records, 1920, 1930, and 1940; 1957 Meteor, La Sierra College Yearbook; Tonawandan, 1937 High School Yearbook, 53; The Evening News, Tonawanda, 5 June 1935 (Peter); 13 July 1940, 6 (marriage); 17 February 1942,3; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 19 April 1922, 2; 2 June 1943, 1; Obituary (Alfred), Review and Herald, 1 March 1973, 30;