Walter C. Lenk, 75, formerly of Chadds Ford, died peacefully on Friday, Oct. 7, in the comfort of his Cambridge home with Debby Knight, his longtime partner in life, music, and dance at his side.
Walter grew up as a Quaker in Chadds Ford and attended Westtown School, an experience that had a major impact on his life. At an early age, he became immersed in building things, competitive swimming, and scouting. By age 11, he was building transistor radios, and at 15 decided he wanted to be an electrical engineer.
In 1967, Walter relocated to the Boston area as a Conscientious Objector, serving in the respiratory therapy department at Beth Israel Hospital.
The vibrant music scene and many interesting people he encountered led him to put down permanent roots in the Cambridge area. In the 1970s, Walter started designing and building sound equipment, ranging from amplifiers and speakers to electric string instruments for several BSO musicians and custom equipment for Aerosmith. His sound reinforcement work took him far and wide, from Sanders Theater to Carnegie Hall, Hawaii to Germany, and festivals such as New Orleans Jazz and Heritage, Mariposa, and the Great Hudson River Revival. Through those experiences, he was introduced to old-time music as well as contra and square dancing, which became a decades-long passion. He soon began calling dances locally as well as along the east coast.
Walter loved writing new dances and calling singing squares. As diabetes and MS impacted his ability to continue his earlier work, Walter gracefully navigated those changes, finding ways to follow his passions while reinventing his work life. He particularly enjoyed creating an oral history project describing Boston-area contra dancing in the 1970s.
Walter and Debby appreciated the wonderful care and support that was provided by his medical and in-home caregivers for many years. In addition to Debby, his partner of 40 years, Walter is survived by his sister Larhken Carroll of Oakland, Calif., and brothers Ted Lenk (sister-in-law Susan Weaver) of Nelson, N.H., Gabrell Carroll of Swoope, Va., and Charles Lenk of Oakland, Calif.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE will be held at Friends Meeting Cambridge on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Walter's memory may be made to Westtown School (West Chester, PA), The Concord Scout House (Concord, Mass.), or Pat Brody Shelter for Cats (Lunenburg, Mass.). For complete obituary, guestbook, and memorial details, please visit keefefuneralhome.com