Ernest Walcher of Gypsum dies
Ernest S. “Doc” Walcher, a former state highway employee and World War II veteran who held various official positions in Gypsum, died Thursday in Denver. He was 83.Walcher was born in Darby, Pa. on March 15, 1921 and moved with his family to Oklahoma in the 1930s. The Dust Bowl forced the family west to Colorado and Gypsum, where Walcher was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Eagle County High School. Walcher worked for the CCC in Glenwood Springs, building bridges for the U.S. Forest Service. Walcher and a brother enlisted in the military on Dec. 7, 1941. Walcher served for four years in the South Pacific with the Night Fighter Squadron, primarily bombing Japan positions at night. After the war, Walcher returned to Gypsum and married Joyce Anderson on May 13, 1946. Walcher worked for the Colorado State Highway Maintenance Department for 30 years. He was responsible for Highway 24 over Tennessee Pass and Highway 6 over Vail Pass. Walcher drove road graders and snow plows for Eagle County for four years. He later worked for the town of Gypsum on the Turgeonville property, where he mowed and trimmed the lawn. Walcher, who received the Congressional Record for outstanding public service by U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, was mayor of Gypsum from 1960 to 1968. He also was chief of the town’s volunteer fire department and commander of American Legion Post 150. Friends and family members said Walcher regularly participated in Memorial Day Services and was a member of firing squads when fellow soldiers died. After Walcher’s wife died in 2003, he moved to Denver because of health issues. He lived in an assisted living facility for Alzheimer’s patients with four other people. There, he continued to work in the yard and garden. He is survived by his children, Dan Walcher of Vail, Janet Cunningham of Centennial and Dennis Walcher of Littleton; his grandchildren, Michael Cunningham, Sara Weidner, Erika Walcher and Stefan Walcher; brother William of Grand Junction; and a sister, Thelma Schultz of Arvada. He was preceded in death by a brother, Robert Walcher. A memorial service will be held in May.