Meet Walter Hessinger

Meet Walter Hessinger

WWII Veteran

He’s Called Simpson Meadows Home Since 2019

He listened to her

Walter Hessinger knew he’d retire to Simpson Meadows years before he made the move.

“My wife and I looked at several places, and she picked this one,” he recalls. “I decided that if Jean picked it, it must be right.”

A career in education

Walter met Jean DeTurck on a blind date arranged by a friend of his who was seeing a friend of hers. He was born in Coplay, in Lehigh County. Jean’s ancestors were French Huguenots who settled in Berks County. In fact, her family had bought land in Oley from Daniel Boone. They married in 1947. They built their first house together and raised two daughters, Marcy and Jeanne, and a son, Barry.

During World War II, Walter had served as an aerial engineer and crew chief in the Army Air Corps. Guam was his home base, and he spent all his tour of duty in the Pacific. After the Army, he attended what was then Kutztown Teachers College (now Kutztown University) on the GI Bill, earned a bachelor’s degree in education, and became a teacher. He went back to Coplay and spent a decade teaching elementary school, and then taught high school History, Civics, and English. He also was assistant professor of education at Kutztown.

In addition to his work in the classroom, Walter served in school administration as well. In the early 1960s, he was called to Chester County and tasked with consolidating seven one-room schools. Later he was director of personnel for the Downingtown School District and eventually was named district superintendent—the position he held when he retired in 1987.

Looking together in the same direction

Marrying Jean is one of Walter’s happiest memories. She had also graduated from Kutztown with a degree in education, worked in the Downingtown Area School District and retired in 1987. In their retirement, they cruised the Caribbean and European rivers and traveled to China, Russia, Mexico, Canada, and North Africa.

My favorite place was China, because the culture was very interesting and unique,” Walter recalls.

Walter and Jean were also very active in the community. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and volunteered at the VA Hospital. Walter served as president of the Del-Chester Elementary Principals Association and on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees. He volunteered on the Downingtown Borough Civil Service Commission, the zoning board, and the Downingtown library board. He was an active Rotarian and an elder at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. In 1997 he was named Downingtown Citizen of the Year.

A family decision

The couple was also very involved with family. All three children graduated from college.

“I took my oldest daughter to a Penn State football game, and from there she decided to go to Penn State,” he says. “And then all of the kids followed and graduated from Penn State.”

Today, Walter has six grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren, one who is 16 and one who was born in November 2021.

Walter and Jean were together for 67 years before she passed in 2014. In 2019 he moved to Simpson Meadows—the place she had liked when they started looking at retirement communities. And it wasn’t just his wife who liked Simpson Meadows.

“My children also encouraged me to move here,” he says. And it’s safe to say he’s glad he did.

Call us today at 610-269-8400 or submit the form below to see for yourself why Walter and other  WWII veterans choose Simpson Meadows for retirement living.


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