Walter Brumby Fowler

May 5, 1926 ~ March 10, 2021 (age 94)


Walter Brumby Fowler was born on May 5, 1926 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Mary Alexander Brumby Fowler and Julian Sabin Fowler. He passed on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Mary was an accomplished artist and teacher; Julian was the head librarian at Oberlin College for 28 years. Sadly, Mary passed away in 1932. Walter traveled by train to spend his summers at the Old Home Place in Goodman, MS with his beloved Aunts Carol & Margaret and Uncles Arnoldus, Paul, Jack, and James. His solo train trips at a young age led to his lifelong love and fascination with trains. 

Walter served in the Navy at the end of WWII in the V-12 Navy College Training Program completing some of his undergraduate work at Oberlin College. He also served in the Korean War on battleships and destroyers. He would frequently tell the story of standing watch with Jimmy Carter.

He finished his master’s work at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he went on to teach math and physics. A friend set him up with a fellow professor, Elaine DuCharme. They went canoeing for their first date and went on to marry in Oxford in June of 1959.

They moved to Washington, D.C. shortly thereafter where Walter worked at the US Naval Research Laboratory. They welcomed their daughter, Susan DuCharme Fowler, in 1960. A few years later Walter switched jobs to become an optical physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The family moved to Greenbelt and then Seabrook, MD. While in Seabrook, the couple welcomed their son, Robert Brumby Fowler, in 1971. Walter remained at NASA for about 30 years working on things like Project Mercury, the International Ultraviolet Explorer, and the Hubble Telescope. He also learned the Russian language to help in his work and traveled to Russia as a tourist in the early 1980s.

After retiring from NASA the couple enjoyed some travels, both together and separately. Walter bought a special senior citizen airline ticket where he could fly around the continental US each week but had to pick a different destination each time. He even hiked the Continental Divide. Sometime in the 1990s he gradually moved full time to Rogers Lake in Old Lyme, CT, Elaine’s parent’s lovely lakeside home.

Shortly after their grandson, William Brumby Fowler, was born in 2004, Walter and Elaine returned to MD to settle into Riderwood Village in Silver Spring, MD. Elaine died in 2008. Walter carried on, enjoying the social aspects of the retirement community and even driving into his 90s. He got to know his second grandchild Cassandra Elaine Fowler born in 2013. His son and grandson are so happy they got to see him 4 days before he died on March 10, 2021. He and his plentiful stories always told with a smile will be greatly missed.

Walter is survived by his daughter, Sue Fowler, of Seabrook, MD and his son, Rob Fowler, and Christina Hough Fowler of Alexandria, VA, and his grandson, Will Fowler and granddaughter, Cassie Fowler.


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Memorial Service
March 30, 2021

2:00 PM
Chapel at Riderwood
Gracefield Road
Silver Spring, MD 20904


The Mary Alexander Brumby Scholorship
11404 7th Avenue S, Moorehead MN 56563

French Camp
One Pine Place, French Camp MS 39745

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