Obituary: Walter A. Stark Jr. Jan. 6, 2023

WALTER A. STARK Jr. Jan. 6, 2023

Walter A Stark Jr., passed away peacefully in his apartment in Santa Fe amongst his closest family Jan. 6, 2023 after over a year battling cancer. 

Known since childhood as ‘Hootie’ to friends and family alike, Walt enjoyed a wonderful life that continually connected him to New Mexico. Raised in Las Vegas NM, Walt was an undergrad at Princeton and earned his PhD at Berkeley. His degrees took him back to NM to employment in Albuquerque in 1967, where he met his wife, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Brown. Moving to Los Alamos in 1973, the couple raised their son Chris and built a deep circle of friends.

With Charlotte’s passing in 2010, Walter moved to Santa Fe and reconnected with many of his childhood acquaintances. There he also met Judith Kilpatrick, who became his partner for this chapter of his life. He is survived by son Chris, his daughter-in-law Rebecca, his grandchildren Dexter, Duncan, and Eden and his partner Judith.

Hootie was a precocious tinkerer, legendary for dismantling a door from its frame at not quite four years old. He never lost the knack. He gravitated to science and worked for over 35 years as a materials scientist in Los Alamos National Laboratories. He was an avid car nut, racing cars with SCCA and rebuilding a handful of muscle cars and classic British motorcycles. He became a lover of Shakespeare in his 60s, regularly attending the Utah Shakespeare Festival and ultimately finding his second career as a highly technical props artisan at the Festival for 10 years, tackling some of the more sophisticated props designed for the Festival during that period.

Walter had a wide range of passions. He was a strong proponent of higher education and supported continual learning, including supporting foundations for scholarships to Highlands University and UNM.  He had a special capacity to connect well with everyone around him; a sense of humility and respect for people from all walks of life and a genuine interest in their stories, thoughts, and talents. He was impressive in his fastidiousness in everything he touched: from his science to his creative side. We will all miss him and cherish the collective memories we have of Hootie.

Walter’s cremated remains will be placed alongside those of Charlotte’s in Guaje Pines Cemetery in Los Alamos. No service is scheduled, but the family plans to hold a celebration of his life in Santa Fe during the early summer 2023. The family has asked that any gifts in Hootie’s memory be made to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

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