Walter Verney Green passed away quietly in his sleep after a day of visits with Sherron, his wife of 44 years, and his three children. We were all so sad to let him go, but we also believe he was ready. It had not been long since we celebrated his 92nd birthday.
Walter went by several names including Wally, Walt, and his childhood name of Verney. He had lived most recently in the Boulder, Colorado vicinity after a fall made it impossible to return to his beloved home in Crested Butte, CO. He and Sherron had called Crested Butte home since 1979. The one-time proprietors of the Purple Mountain Lodge, they moved later to a house at Meridian Lake with a 2 ½-story climbing wall. He loved coaching people up the wall well past his own climbing days as well as seeing wildlife out his living-room window.
Born and raised in Schenectady, NY, he went to the University of Wisconsin and earned BS, MS, and Ph.D, degrees in Metallurgy leading to a career as a well-respected materials scientist. He worked in Los Alamos, NM at the National Laboratory for 20+ years with a one-year stint at Centro Atomico in Bariloche, Argentina. He then accepted an offer to work at the Swiss Federal Institute for Reactor Research in Würenlingen, Switzerland, where he continued to work on fusion power research for another dozen years. He greatly enjoyed having co-researchers from all over the world. A science pioneer, he travelled to Canada, China, and Mexico, providing talks to colleagues, and collaborating on innovative ideas and theories.
While in Madison he joined the Hoofers Outing club where he fostered his lifelong enjoyment of outdoor activities including rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and later, whitewater kayaking. One of his favorite stories about his Hoofer adventures was about a time he woke up to find a bear inside his tent.
Walter made a mark everywhere he lived. In Los Alamos, he was actively involved in the Pajarito Mountain Ski Club and getting Pinon Park Pool built. He often led multi-family weeklong trips involving skiing, backpacking, climbing, and kayaking, sharing his deep and abiding love of the outdoors and the natural world. Before Sherron, he was married nearly 20 years to Marilyn (now Marilyn Minshall). Walter and Marilyn raised their three children primarily in White Rock in a busy household filled with Saint Bernards, a cat, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, and occasional tadpoles as they transformed into frogs. They were a busy family, spending most summer weekends in a tent in the wilds of Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. He spent the winter on ski patrol at Pajarito Mountain – a ski hill built by volunteers – where he enjoyed the results of work parties to cut new slopes.
Walter loved to help his children do their homework, particularly math and science. His daughter Wendy’s favorite question of her dad was “Dad, tell me again what makes a rainbow?” All his children continue to love skiing although perhaps son Scott the most; to this day he skis nearly every day that Crested Butte is open. Son Verney made his family proud by earning a PhD of his own at his dad’s alma mater.
His wife Sherron worked at his side during his years in Switzerland and they used that home base to nurture their shared passion for international travel. He was proud to have visited all seven continents and he could never make up his mind about his favorite experience. Perhaps it was observing a cheetah take down a gazelle on safari in Kenya. Perhaps it was watching lava from Kilauea flow into the ocean. The Galapagos, Norway, Tahiti, Iceland, and Antarctica all made lasting impressions. Kandersteg was a favorite weekend getaway during Walter and Sherron’s years in Switzerland.
Family was important to Walter. His father, Walter Verney Green (the first) and his older brother Donald were also metallurgists. He loved both, as well as his gracious mother Rita, deeply.
Walter was deeply principled, believing all humans are deserving of dignity and respect, that climate change is real, and that wildlife and wild places must be protected.
Walter was preceded in death by his parents and his brother. Walter is survived by his wife Sherron of Louisville, CO and children Wendy (Joe, son Nathan) of Loveland, CO, Scott of Mount Crested Butte, CO, and Verney (Martha, daughter Sonya, sons Miles and Collin) of Golden, CO. He also left behind his brother Don’s six daughters Nancy, Linda, Patricia, Kathy, Cindy, and Karen, and his Samoyed Furka.
The family will hold a celebration of life when everyone can gather together. In lieu of flowers they suggest donations to environmental organizations or the charity of one’s choice.