He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Norma; three grandchildren, Jason Pakkala, T/Sgt. Keven Pakkala and Jennifer Erin Prince; four great-grandchildren, Brett, Logan, Ethan and Isabel.
Wally graduated from Roseville High School in Newark, NJ. He was a member of Roseville Masonic Lodge. He joined the military and after training, became a navigator. His crew was formed and assigned to a B-24. After more training, he was sent to Africa and Foggia, Italy. He was with the 459th Bombardment group. He kept a journal that vividly recounts the details of his flight missions over the course of a period from late March to August 1944. His journal describes the harrowing experiences and narrow escapes of a man who had lost five sets of tent-mates during the war. He mainly flew missions into Germany, but also Romania, Austria, and Southern France. On April 28, he counts one unfortunate flight in which the crew and one of his best friends was lost. He was duty officer that day which meant he did not fly. The right wing hit the tower and blew up. All were destroyed. Wally went from one crew to another; always coming back. God was with him. He returned to the United States but not before he was asked if he would fly fifty more missions to which he replied, “No thanks.” He was sent to Boca Raton, FL, where he met Norma who was at Lake Worth for a vacation with an aunt. He was then a First Lieutenant with a Packard convertible. They had a grand time seeing the Palm Beaches. Norma’s father sent her a message saying, “Come home.” Wally knew he had lost the girl with whom he had fallen in love but after two hundred love letters they became engaged and were married in September of 1945 in Lakewood, Ohio. The Atomic Bomb was dropped just before that and Wally decided to leave the Air Force and go back to Newark. Norma was not thrilled but they went for three years at which time Wally decided to go back in to the Air Force. They went to Topeka, KS, Travis AFB California, Rapid City, SD, Houston, TX, Sacramento, CA, Omaha, NE, and as life got better to London, England for three years. Here, Wally helped monitor Gary Powers, the U2 pilot who was shot down. Wally also served at the Pentagon for five years in the Office of Assignments. In Omaha, (Strategic Air Command) he worked in Intelligence, flew with General Curtis E. LeMay and briefed him on Secret Projects.
Wally was assigned to Ramstein, Germany, where he was Chief of Contingency Plans for the 17th Air Force – Europe. He was a Lt. Colonel by then. Along the way, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha as well as his Master’s degree in Aerospace Management from the University of Southern California. In 1971, he retired from the USAF. Wally was a member of the VFW, DAV and St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Wally then taught High School for ten years in St. Petersburg, FL at Mirror Lake. He taught “employability skills” or “How to Get a Job.” In 1978, the Widman’s found Franklin and have always loved it and the people. They had a summer home in Swiss Colony and then a permanent home in Patton Valley. They attended Patton Methodist Church and Wolffork Baptist Church in Rabun County, GA. Wally lived a good life and was adored by all who knew him.
Funeral Service was held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, June 22 in the Chapel of Macon Funeral Home. Pastor Jim Greer will officiated. Burial was in the Patton United Methodist Church Cemetery with full military honors.
The family received friends from 6-8:00 p.m. Saturday, June 21 at Macon Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Patton United Methodist Church Cemetery Fund 119 Patton Church Road, NC 28734, Wolffork Baptist Church, 453 Wolffork Church Rd, Rabun Gap, GA 30568 or the Veteran’s Memorial C/O American Legion, PO Box 474, Franklin, NC 28744.
Macon Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences can be made at maconfuneralhome.com.