“Walt” Hampe passed away early Saturday morning, October 12, 2019, at his home of 48 years on the Silverado Trail. With him were his wife of 65 years, Wheyting, his daughter Carrie, and his son Carl. With him in spirit were his grandchildren Davis, Marian and Margaret Hampe, and his daughter-in-law Frances Marion Hampe.
Walt grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Washington University, St. Louis, where he met a foreign student in his biology lab class with whom he would spend the rest of his life. After living in Germany, Berkeley, and London, Walter, Wheyting and family moved to St. Helena in 1961 to begin what he thought was a brief tour teaching high school. This began a teaching career that would span three decades at St. Helena High School.
Walt did almost everything at SHHS. He taught Algebra and science because of his chemistry degree, and he taught history and humanities because of his Masters in History. For a number of years, he was Principal of St. Helena High School. He taught thousands of students over his career and befriended hundreds of them. His goal was to bring the knowledge of the world to students who were growing up in a rural, agricultural valley in the pre-Internet era. He delighted in doing this; many, many students appreciated it.
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After retiring from SHHS, Walt went to work for Sutter Home Winery, based on his long friendship with the Trinchero family. Among his many duties, he was a regular participant in community and civic activities, where he inevitably ran into his former students. It gave him great pleasure to be one of the ambassadors for this local wine family that did well while also doing good.
After retiring from Sutter Home, Walt continued his work as Board Member of the North Bay Regional Center and Napa Valley Support Services, where he helped advance that organization’s mission to improve services to local residents with disabilities. He served on the board well into his 80’s.
He remained a fixture at SHHS reunions until the very end – attending the Reunion of the Class of 1974 this past August, with the help of a walker, his son, Carl, and his grandson, Davis. It was a beautiful summer evening, with a long table set on a lawn by the vineyards and winery of a multi-generational St. Helena family. The evening sun filtered through the plum-colored west hills. Tired upon returning home, he observed: “I really enjoyed that.”
Among many things, Walt was a citizen of St. Helena and the Napa Valley. By his own measure, his life was long, happy and satisfying.