Linda Cohn Walter died at home on April 3, after a long battle with dementia. Her husband was at her side, and although neither her twin sister nor any of her children live in Houston, all four got to say goodbye during the last few minutes of her life.
Linda was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Houston in 1971; she married her husband Rabbi Roy Walter a year later. Although as the wife of a pulpit rabbi she was always in the public eye, Linda never sought it or basked in it, and she never let it define her. She remained her own person and inspired so many others through her tireless work as a volunteer throughout the Houston community. Her youngest son, when asked what his mother did for a living, answered, “She’s a professional volunteer.” She volunteered at Lighthouse for the Blind and served on several committees of the United Way, on the Boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and Congregation Emanu El Sisterhood, which honored her for her years of devotion and service. She was Vice President of Jewish Family Service, from which she received the prestigious Joan Alexander Chesed (Loving Kindness) Award and President of the Jewish Community Center, from which she received the coveted David H. White Award for a life lived by the highest ideals of Jewish life.
Linda was a natural cook who knew instinctively how to riff on a recipe and make it something special. She taught cooking classes as a volunteer, mostly teaching young women how to cook Jewish dishes like gefilte fish and mandel bread so such classic foods would survive.
Above all, however, family was truly at the heart of Linda’s priorities. When her mother became ill, Linda and Roy brought her to Houston to live with them until her death 5 years later. Linda cherished and excelled at her role as wife and mother. She shlepped her children from activity to activity without complaint, and still saw to it that a home-cooked dinner was on the table every night. She taught her children by example to be a good friend, to be honorable, kind, and honest, and to make a positive difference in the world. Though her grandchildren didn’t live in Houston, she cherished every moment on the phone and in person with them. They were the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.
There are not words to express the family’s appreciation to the friends who visited and took Linda to lunch and shopping during the early stages of her illness. The family is grateful as well to caregiver Bertha Funes and to the caregivers from Advocates for the Independent who took such wonderful care of Linda during her long and difficult illness.
Linda is survived by her husband of 47 years Rabbi Roy Walter; children Benjamin and Kelly Walter, Michel Walter and Jason Hyde, Aaron Walter and Mikey Kinsely; grandchildren Ethan and Hannah Walter; and twin sister Marlene Goldblatt and husband Herb.
The family is deeply saddened by Linda’s death, and is especially sorrowful that it occurred at a time when the hundreds of people who would have come to honor her are not able to do so. Their calls, emails, and texts from around the country have been received as warm hugs.
The world is a richer place for Linda’s having lived and a poorer place she is no longer here. She will be missed by many.
A private graveside service was held at Emanu El Memorial Park with Rabbis Oren Hayon, Pam Silk and Cantor Rollin Simmons officiating. A video of the graveside service will be posted on the Congregation’s website: www.emanuelhouston.org soon.
Contributions are welcome at the Linda and Rabbi Roy Walter Legacy Fund of Congregation Emanu El, or charity of choice.