John C. Walters

John C. Walters

SYRACUSE — On Saturday, Dec. 19, John C. “Jack” Walters — husband, father, and friend — died, awaiting the arrival of his devoted family, at Loretto Nursing Home in Syracuse. He returned there after testing negative from a battle with COVID-19. While he suffered from dementia, it was perhaps his entanglement with COVID-19 that brought an end to his life much sooner than expected. He was 77.

He was born on May 11, 1943 and grew up in Altamont, working at Gil DeLucia’s pharmacy in the village through his graduation from Guilderland High School and Albany College of Pharmacy.

“Jack was a respected pharmacist in this community,” his family wrote in a tribute. “His life’s work culminated in many achievements and advances in the field that have, in turn, contributed to great quality and controls in pharmacy and are now nationally recognized standards of care. If you have ever needed care in a hospital, or a prescription filled while on vacation, chances are how medications were provided to you are largely because of Jack’s efforts.”

A graduate of the Albany College of Pharmacy, he enlisted in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and achieved the rank of captain. After leaving the Air Force honorably, he worked as a pharmacy manager, supervisor, and small-business owner for various retail pharmacies. He was the president of the Onondaga County Pharmaceutical Society. 

“In 1986 he began paving pathways for an advanced pharmacy system that would change the dispensation and delivery of medications in hospitals,” his family wrote. “For many years, Jack assumed responsibilities as the overnight pharmacist for Crouse-Irving Memorial Hospital. There, he developed computer programs for adult and neonatal dosing. He was paramount in the implementation, development and evaluation of the ATC-212 unit-dose system, the PRN medication delivery system, and the bar code application of inpatient dispensing and tracking of controlled drugs.

“Jack then became the director of pharmacy at Community General Hospital where he implemented, designed, and redesigned several critical medication dispensation systems. Many of the systems used in hospitals today are because of what Jack accomplished at Community.

“Perhaps his greatest contribution was centered around the technology he developed and pioneered with McKesson Pharmaceuticals with the robotic dispensation system, now known as the RobotRx, putting Community on the map as one of the first hospitals in the country to use this system. It was an innovation that would take Jack onto another career journey to Manchester, New Hampshire. In typical form, under Jack’s leadership and work ethic, he finished these projects ahead of schedule, efficiently serving these hospitals and communities.

“Jack ended his career in a full circle with his return to Syracuse in retail pharmacy, which would sadly be short-lived. The dramatic onset of vascular dementia changed his abilities and cognition, and Jack left pharmacy life knowing that he was battling an awful opponent. He quietly retreated to the care of his family, and lived there until October of 2018 when he entered full time nursing care. In 2018, the family accepted his designation as honored recipient of the Eldercare Achiever Award, given for his dedication to the quality and progression of health care in this community.

“Jack lived his life in a way that was modest and incredibly unassuming. He never bragged about his successes, and rarely felt the need for applause of any kind. He was the man who loved to listen to the conversations in the room. He was the first to quietly pay for the tab for dinner out among friends, and the last to leave the floor at work.

“He believed that being ‘on time’ was to be 15 minutes early, he encouraged people to look out for one another, and he made sure everyone around him always came first with comfort and need. Jack had a smile that would light up a room and a laugh that was infectious.

“He was an avid sports fan. He loved and cheered for the Syracuse men’s and women’s basketball teams, raced cars regularly with the CNY Sports Car Club of America, golfed, and bowled. He was the best ‘coach dad,’ a huge music fan, and supported his daughters in all of their interests and pursuits.

“Jack loved great craft beer, could cook corned beef dinner like a true Irishman, was an avid reader, dabbled in car restorations, and could outplay anyone at blackjack. He was indeed a prince among men, and walked tall in life by being a man of action, kindness, and generosity.”

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John C. Walters is survived by the love of his life and wife of 54 years, Roberta C. “Joey” Walters; two daughters, Natalie of Syracuse, and Christa of Carlinville, Illinois; a grandson, Porter; his sisters, Judi Dineen of Altamont and Mary Oates and her husband, Robert, of Portland, Maine; his brother, Michael of Gloversville; a niece and four nephews; his brother-in-law, William Mahar III and his wife, Jane, of Hillsdale New York; and his oldest and truest friend, John “Jack” Pross, of Syracuse.

His parents, Dorthea and Carl J. Walters, died before him as did his brother, Robert Walters — all from Altamont.

“Jack’s family wishes to acknowledge the tireless efforts and kindness of his caregivers,” the tribute said, “at the following facilities: the Nascentia Health Care Family, specifically the Eldercare Social Day Program; the Loretto Nursing Home at the Cunningham Caregivers, especially on the 11th and 13th floors; and the superheroes that work tirelessly, every day in our hospitals, specifically all of the men and women who contributed to take care of Jack in the emergency room, intensive-care unit, and 3rd floor units of Upstate Hospital at Community these last few weeks.

“The family asks the community to honor Jack’s life and his distinct contributions by wearing a mask, staying home, and keeping social circles limited during this winter. Please, put forth a sincere act of this consideration to ensure the well being of our health-care workers, our nursing-home residents, and each other.

“You indeed make a difference every day you mask up. Please also honor Jack by helping your neighbors in any unexpected way, making sure the families on your street are able to eat and stay in their homes during the next year, and being generous with your patience and kindness with one another, especially with those people at various stages of their dementia.”

A memorial service will be held at a later date when it can be done safely and allow the family to be together.

Memorial messages may be left at www.altamontenterprise.com/milestones.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Food Bank of Central New York, 7066 Interstate Island Road, Syracuse, NY 13209, or to a favorite animal rescue.

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