Walter Scheuer, 82, Loved Family Time on Vineyard

Walter Scheuer, an investor, philanthropist, documentary film producer, and devoted summer resident of Martha's Vineyard for more than fifty years, died peacefully on Sept. 20 at his home in New York city after a period of decline. Memorial services were held in New York city on Sept. 23.

Born in New York in 1922, Wally, as he was widely known, first visited the Island in the 1930's with his parents. He attended Swarthmore College, from which he graduated with high honors. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the South Pacific, including New Guinea and the Philippines, aboard the USS Blue Ridge. For many years, Wally kept a motor boat on Menemsha Pond named the Blue Ridge.

In 1947 the Scheuer family purchased property on the pond, near their friends Rita and Thomas Hart Benton. Wally and his wife, Marge have shared a home there with their four children, extended family, and many friends for the past 54 years. Some of Wally's happiest times were spent with his family and friends on the Vineyard, as well as on the Blue Ridge, fishing in the Vineyard Sound and off Noman's, or picnicking at the Elizabeth Islands.

In 1979, in the middle of a successful career on Wall Street, Wally produced a documentary film about the violinist Isaac Stern's tour of China, the first by a major Western classical musician. The film, From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, won an Academy Award in 1981 for best documentary. In addition to From Mao to Mozart, Wally produced a number of other documentaries, including High Fidelity, about the Guarneri String Quartet; A Hungry Feeling, about the Irish poet and playwright Brendan Behan; November's Children, a 1991 film about the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia; and Dancemaker, about the dancer and choreographer Paul Taylor. He also produced Small Wonders, a film about Roberta Tzavaras and Opus 110, an organization devoted to teaching music to inner city children, which was an Academy Award nominee in 1995, and the basis for the feature film Music of the Heart.

Wally served on the boards of Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He also supported other documentary film makers, and privately sponsored many young musicians from around the world to come to New York to study. 

Wally supported many Island causes, including the building of the Chilmark Community Center, the recent expansion of the Chilmark Public Library, Vineyard House, and the Foundation for Island Health. He cared greatly about the preservation of the Vineyard, supporting, along with Marge and his family, the Sheriff's Meadow Foundation and the Vineyard Conservation Society.

Wally Scheuer's heart was always on Martha's Vineyard. His ashes will be interred at Abel's Hill Cemetery.