July 25, 1921 – August 16, 2014
Walt Shotwell, 93, a retired Des Moines Register columnist and decorated veteran of two wars, died of heart and lung diseases Saturday, August 16, 2014 at home with his wife at his side. HCI Care Services had been providing home hospice services the past few months. Per Walt’s wishes, his body will be cremated and, following a memorial service on Saturday, August 30 at 11:00 a.m. at the First Unitarian Church in Des Moines, his ashes will be interred at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter. The interment service with full military honors will be September 2 at 2:00 p.m. at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.
Walter Elwood Shotwell, II was born April 25, 1921 in the family home at 700 Prospect Road in Des Moines, soon moving to 4309 Ingersoll Avenue. When the Great Depression struck in the early 1930s, the Shotwells were forced into the grandfather’s small farm home near Polk City. Walt commuted to Roosevelt High School as Grandfather Shotwell drove daily to his business near the Polk County Courthouse.
Walt lettered in football and track, running eight times in the Drake Relays, starting in fifth grade. He was a fair tennis player, but entered no tournaments. His bridge game was slightly better than his tennis. A friend once declared Walt to be Roosevelt’s best ballroom dancer ever. For several years his passion was sailing, on several Iowa lakes, Lake Michigan, Chesapeake Bay and twice across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
After high school graduation in 1939, Walt worked for two years at Bankers Life Company (now Principal Financial). In World War Two he became a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corp and he flew 486 combat cargo missions over Japanese-occupied Burma, earning three Bronze Stars, five Air Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.
After the war, Walt attended Drake University on the GI Bill. In 1947 he became a newscaster at KRNT Radio. In 1949 he became a Des Moines Register reporter. As a pilot with the Iowa Air National Guard he was recalled into active Air Force duty during the Korean War. Returning to the Register, Walt resigned to become a newscaster at WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, returning to Des Moines to enter the political advertising business. He returned to The Register in 1978 as a reporter and columnist, writing the popular “Shotwell’s City” column as well as “On Advertising” and Shotwell”. After retiring in 1991, Walt wrote biographies on Bill Knapp and Ray Townsend. Walt then wrote his autobiography and a novel.
Preceding Walt in death were his parents, LeRoy and Pearl Reigard Shotwell and his brother John. Surviving Walt are his wife, Mary Vietmeier Shotwell; a daughter, Rebecca (Kevin Pirro) Shotwell of San Francisco; two sons, Jeffrey (Renate) Shotwell of Des Moines, and Stephen (Cheryl) Booth of Waukee; twin granddaughters, Melissa of Denver and Michelle of Omaha, a grandson, Michael (Jamie Olerich) of Des Moines, and a great-grandson, Landon, of Des Moines.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, those who wish make a donation in his name to HCI Care Service Foundation, the Animal Rescue League, or a favorite charity of your choice.Information provided by: Brooks Funeral Care 7975 University Blvd. Clive, IA 50325 www.meaningfulfunerals.net