Walter Ganz |

Walter Ganz

Walter Ganz, 87, died at home in Santa Fe, N.M., on April 2, 2009. Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, on Dec. 2, 1921, Walter grew up in Mainz and Stuttgart and left Germany with his family in 1936, ahead of what became the Holocaust. The family settled in Chicago, where he attended high school and the University of Chicago.

He worked for the City News Bureau as a police reporter until drafted by the U.S. Army in 1943. He became an instructor at a joint U.S.-British intelligence school in London and, following D-Day, served as a translator, interrogator and intelligence analyst in the headquarters of the 12th Army Group, the top U.S. command on the continent. After his discharge in 1945, he graduated in political science and international relations from the University of Chicago in 1946.

He then moved to Washington, where he married Ruth Leone in 1947. Their first daughter, Diana, was born in 1949. After almost three years as an editor in the press section of the Civil Affairs Division at the Pentagon, he joined the CIA in 1949. He became the editor of what is now known as the top secret Daily Intelligence Brief, first for President Truman and then President Eisenhower.

A second daughter, Claudia, was born in 1958. He left the CIA in 1960 and moved to Englewood, N.J., to operate a family-owned real estate business. In what he considered his greatest accomplishment while in business, he racially integrated the family’s apartment houses. During this period he became active in the Civil Rights Campaign, the ethical culture movement as well as the Democratic Party. His work with ethical culture, a humanist religious movement, led to his becoming president of the ethical culture Society of Bergen County and executive vice president of the American Ethical Union, the national umbrella organization of the Ethical Culture movement. He also served as Democratic municipal chairman of Englewood, and then was elected councilman-at-large and president of the Englewood City Council in 1971.

In 1974, the family moved to Aspen, where they built a house on Red Mountain. Besides doing a lot of skiing, Walter became active in Aspen community affairs and with the Aspen Institute. He was elected to the board of the Aspen Valley Community Hospital and became chairman of the board as well as president of the board of the Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center.

Following the death of his older daughter, Diana, in 1992 and his wife Ruth’s move to the East Coast, he moved to Santa Fe in 1993, where he married Kate Wall in 1998. He also became active in Santa Fe and served on the boards of various community organizations, including the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

He is survived by his daughter Claudia, of New York City, and his wife, Kate Wall Ganz of Santa Fe. His first wife, Ruth, died in 2004.

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