Fr. Walter Sheffield's Memories

(Fr. Walters was the BASC chaplain for about ten years. He
passed away Saturday, July 9, 2005. He was 82 years old )

  • Born Oct 1,1922 in Panama City, Florida
  • Grew up during the depression. When my father who was a carpenter couldn't find work anymore, he went out to New Mexico to work in the New Deal program. My mother and the children moved to Houston because mother's brother had a good job with the railroad.
  • Moved all over Houston and felt familiar  with most  school in Houston before I graduated from Milby High School in 1939.
  • Worked at LaMar Hotel as a bell hop and then at the Rice Hotel as a night auditor. That is how I became a night person.
  • After World War II  started everyone seemed to enlist or be drafted so I enlisted in the army along with my cousin in 1943.
  • In the army I traveled. I went from Ellington Field to Spokane, Washington to Riverside, California (March Field) to Kesler field in Kentucky. All the travel was by train. The trains in the south were air conditioned but the northern boys wanted to open the windows.
  • Then was sent on a ship to Okinawa. At age 21, I thought it was great fun. On the ship slept in bunks stacked 7 high. At night there were blackouts and you could go on deck and look at the water and see thousands of lights under the water that were from sea creatures. It was a good time. We had long conversations since there was little to do. Sometimes the sea got rough and we had to take seasickness pills. One time I took 3 and slept all night and all day.
  • When we got to Okinawa, we found total devastation. Even the trees had been destroyed. That's when I got interested in religion. There was a Baptist minister who was the Chaplain. We built a chapel on Okinawa for the troops and anyone else who wanted to come. I was trained as a gunner but that never worked out. On Okinawa, I worked in the tool shed. There were five hundred thousand troops on the  small island as the war ended. On the day the war with Japan ended we stood and overlooked the bay which was filled with American ships. The sailors went crazy. They must have set off every pyrotechnic device they could find. It was the most spectacular fireworks display I have ever seen.
  • I stayed on Okinawa a while longer but it was very boring and there was nothing to do. Gradually troops began to be shipped out. Finally, I came home on a ship which sailed into San Francisco. As we went under the Golden  Gate Bridge they were playing the song Symphony. I debarked the army on March 13, 1946. I just wanted to be out of the army and have nothing to do with it again. I wasn't battle scarred. I didn't see any direct action although we could hear the guns from the action on Okinawa.
  • I came home and started looking for a job. I went back to the Rice Hotel but I had changed and I knew that job wasn't for me anymore. I then went to work for BF Goodrich and Ford. In 1951, I got a job as an accountant (pencil pusher) for Shell. I worked at the Deer Park refinery. It was interesting and fun. I met a lot of foreigners. I worked there for 27 years.
  • There were many reasons I became a Catholic during those last years at Shell. The Walsh sisters, who were Sisters of the Incarnate Word from St. Joseph's hospital were instrumental in my becoming a priest. (Father told us he was not a very "good" Baptist)
  • Became a priest on Feb. 20, 1982. Had an assignment at St. Hyacinth in Deer Park and at St. Edward in Spring, a pastor at St. Patrick in Galveston and finally the assignment at St. Paul.


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