Written by Jeanie Mebane
JACKSON, Wyo. — As a young girl, Alice-Jane (A.J.) Walter wanted to be a missionary. She has succeeded — although she doesn’t attempt to persuade or promote a particular religion, she enriches all of our lives with her smiles and friendliness.
A.J. grew up in Eastern Iowa, received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English and was married for most of her life. Her first trip to Wyoming was to visit her aunt and uncle in Laramie at the age of seven.
It was a fun trip, but the best part was the train ride back to Iowa – somehow, they ended up in the part of the train full of soldiers heading overseas! “My sister and I were the main attraction and we were given candy and gum, which my aunt quickly confiscated and it all disappeared into her purse!”
Many years later she spent the summer in Laramie with the same aunt and uncle. It was then she met people from Big Piney who became longtime friends along with a girl who later moved to Jackson (Patty Ewing). That began the “love relationship” with Northwest Wyoming. A.J. has passed that love onto her children, one of whom lives here in Jackson.
A.J. began her teaching career in a small community called Guttenberg on the Mississippi River. The school was located right on the river where there was a lock and dam. Sometimes barges would hit the sides of the locks and the building would shake!
Even before she received her B.A., A.J. taught fifth grade — back in the “dark ages” you could teach with a two-year certificate. When she earned her B.A., she moved to the high school where she stayed for 30 plus years.
During this time, she married a local farmer and found out that she loved the farm and agriculture. Two daughters and a son rounded out their family. They raised black angus cattle and farrowed to finish 2,000 head of hogs a year.
That brought 4-H into the picture and A.J. became involved, too, as a leader and also became a judge in various areas of 4-H, extending to county, state and national levels. A.J. continued to teach and with her family and become involved in many organizations.
Teaching found her instructing night classes for a nearby community college as well. In 1995, she left Guttenberg for the campus of Iowa State in Ames, IA, where she had the opportunity to teach composition and supervise student teachers.
What actually brought A.J. to Ames was a job at a sorority as a house mom (quite an experience) supposedly “mothering” 60+ live-in young women! She did this for six years and then headed back to Eastern Iowa for several years to reconnect with the other world and watch two grandsons play sports.
An opportunity came to do some more “mothering” at a fraternity at Iowa State. It was a perfect fit for seven years. A.J. is the only female I’ve known who lived in a house with 60 guys.
This woman has taught confirmation, judged queen pageants, hosted foreign exchange students, traveled to Israel, took students to England, worked at a guest ranch and says she has been truly blessed with these opportunities. Her other blessings are six grandsons, one granddaughter, two great sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law and five great-grands including twin girls.
There is a story behind all of these and more I’m sure, but I’ll simply close with one of her statements, “I’m just me.”
A.J. is a resident of Legacy Lodge. To learn more about this community, click HERE.