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Walter R. Gelles

August 13, 2015
Lake Placid News

Walter Ralph Gelles, a resident of Westchester County, passed away at the age of 87 on Saturday, July 4, 2015, at Sarah Neuman Nursing Home in Mamaroneck.

He is predeceased by his wife Carol Schrier Gelles; his brother Henry (Carol); and his sister-in-law Suzanne Schrier Heimerdinger.

He is survived by his sons: Robert and Richard (Susan); his grandsons: Andrew, Danny, Kevin, and Thomas; his sister Edith (Michael); his brother David (Pam); his brother-in-law John (Marilyn) Heimerdinger; and 12 nephews and nieces.

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Walter was born in Brooklyn on April 27, 1928, to Louis and Yentha Gelles. In 1932, he moved to Lake Placid with his parents and older brother, Henry. His sister Edith and younger brother David were born later that decade. Walter was a student in the Lake Placid school system from kindergarten through 12th grade.

In 1942, Walter met his future wife, Carol, who had moved to Lake Placid with her parents, Hy and Mildred Schrier, and her sister, Sue. Walter and Carol graduated from the high school as members of the class of 1946. Walter attended Syracuse University while Carol attended Wells College. On Jan. 28, 1951, they were married in the old Lake Placid Synagogue on Sentinel Road.

Walter graduated from Albany Law School in 1955, and for the next two years he worked for the U.S. Justice Department arguing tax appeals on behalf of the government. During this period, he and Carol resided in Arlington, Virginia, where their older son, Robert, was born. Their younger son, Richard, was born a few years later once the family was settled in the New York City region.

In 1957, Walter and his family relocated to the New York suburbs, and Walter joined the Manhattan real estate law practice of Carol's father, becoming a partner in 1960 and enjoying a successful career that spanned more than five decades. An adept analyst of legal issues, Walter advocated articulately and persuasively for his clients. Although he lived most of his life in southern New York state, he always considered Lake Placid to be a "home away from home."

Over the course of his life, Walter pursued a variety of interests. He kept well-informed about domestic politics; read books on history, especially regarding Israel; listened to classical music and opera; watched the New York Jets; traveled in the U.S. and abroad; played bridge; and golfed.

Walter was a very special man who possessed many wonderful qualities, including kindness, courteousness, patience, and compassion. He was completely devoted to his wife, Carol, with whom he shared a magical 62-year marriage. Her passing in 2013 was a tremendous loss for him. He cared deeply for his sons, Robert and Richard. He was a doting grandfather to Andrew, Danny, Kevin,and Thomas. He was also a loyal friend to those whom he came to know over the years. We will all miss Walter very much.

A graveside service in Walter's memory will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23 at the Lake Placid Synagogue Cemetery on Old Military Road. Rabbi Alec Friedmann will conduct the service. All who knew Walter are invited to attend.



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