The Heller Family, Jill, Marsha, David, Grant, Richard and Brock
Zest for life and passion for Purdue remembered in memorial scholarship
The bonds created among the Boilermaker community often run deep and can cross generations. For the Walb and Jesse families, their Purdue ties extend back more than 60 years and include a recent collaboration to establish the Walter W. Walb Scholarship in Civil Engineering.
David (AG ’91) and Jill Heller of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin established the memorial Scholarship in honor of his grandfather and were joined by longtime family friend, Bob Jesse, in creating the new scholarship. The collaboration reunites two former members of the Board of Trustees who both hailed from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is the latest in personal connections which stretch back decades.
The Walter W. Walb Scholarship in Civil Engineering provides scholarships for undergraduate students enrolled in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and is renewable for students.
Walb’s daughter, Marsha Heller, remembers her father as a generous person and a professional businessman who was not only successful, but people oriented. “He was always interested in students and the education of Purdue students was important to him.” Marsha went on to reflect that her dad, “sought out ways to reward academic excellence especially for students who could not afford it.”
Walter W. Walb
In addition to his business ventures, Walb found time to serve as the president of the Purdue Alumni Association (1951-53) and was one of the original life members of the Purdue Memorial Union. His service to Purdue University culminated in nine years as a member of the Purdue Board of Trustees. At his passing in 1976, Walb was remembered as a tireless advocate for Purdue and the official minutes of Purdue University mentions, “…to his fellow Trustees, University staff and a myriad of others, Walter will be remembered as one of the warmest and most delightful of human beings, with a magnificent zest for life and friendship.”
Bob Jesse (CE ’49) had the personal privilege to follow in Walb’s footsteps, being another civil engineer appointed to the Board of Trustees, a role Jesse served for nearly 23 years.
Marsha Heller’s own journey with Purdue continued later in life, as she graduated from Purdue-Ft. Wayne in 1984, joining at least six other members of the immediate Walb and Heller family as Boilermakers. Bob Jesse, serving then as president of the Board of Trustees, was on stage to hand her the cherished Purdue diploma and an encouraging word which is still remembered years later, “your Dad would be so proud.”
The zest for life, the volunteer service with Purdue and the generous support for current and future students are hallmarks of the Walb, Heller and Jesse families and the three generations truly represent a Purdue for Life mindset. Marsha said it well when she noted, “Everything was Purdue.”