It is with deep regret that I report Col. Walter L. Walsh died at the age of 106-just shy of his 107th birthday. When I was introduced to Col. Walsh not long after being appointed as editor of American Rifleman he greeted me with a grand smile and looked at me with eyes that you don’t encounter very often. Clear, piercing, timeless. Though his body had been ravaged by age and time, his mind and his eyes remained those of one of the greatest rifle and pistols shots of all time, a man who had seen war, gunfights with gangsters and had stood on an Olympic podium. And he recounted quite a few of my predecessors at Rifleman, naming them back to the 1940s. And he appeared on the magazine’s cover in February 1952. It’s not often you get to meet a legendary figure in a given area, but Col. Walsh, who was not a big guy, cast a tall shadow across most of the 20th Century not only as competitive shooter, but as an FBI agent-a G-Man shooting it out with nation’s worst desperadoes-and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Modern marine marksmanship owes much to Col. Walsh.
My friend Bill Vanderpool wrote “The Amazing Life of Walter R. Walsh” for us a few years ago. Bill, a retired FBI agent, had been friends with and competed side-by with Col. Walsh for decades. And Bill would stop by and see him quite, often giving me updates on how “Walter” was doing. On top of all the other records he set, he was the oldest living American Olympian. Not long ago, Bill called and let me know Col. Walsh was in hospice and was not doing well. Bill’s story on Col. Walsh, written when he was 103, is a fitting tribute to this American hero, and I strongly encourage you to read it. In the article’s end, Bill described Walsh as “a fugitive from the law of averages,” and Walsh replied, “Yes, I guess I am at that.” A fugitive no more, all those in the world’s he contributed so much mourn his loss.