Walter Scherr ’49 was in his late 20s before he embarked on his education at Pace that set the stage for an international career. In 2015, Scherr released Walter’s Way, a memoir detailing his journey from a child raised in the Great Depression who ultimately became a business pioneer. Now in his early 90s, Scherr shares his vivid recollections of the trials, travails and successes of the business world, as well as his international travels to England, Japan, Germany, India, and the Middle East among other places.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, 18-year old Scherr tried to enlist in the military only to learn that he had tuberculosis. He spent more than six years in a sanatorium, beating the odds and surviving what many others did not. But his TB diagnosis left him an outcast, and finding a job was difficult. While working at an ice cream parlor, a friend noted that Scherr was good with numbers and suggested that he attend Pace Institute. The brothers who owned the ice cream parlor designated all tips for Scherr’s education, and he received a certificate in accounting after attending night classes at 225 Broadway.
“Pace opened up a whole new world of knowledge and communication to me,” recalls Scherr, who would later complete his BA at Pace College and go on to receive his MA at Hofstra and a PhD at New York University. “It was the gateway for everything for me. My career started with Pace. I hope that all alumni are as happy with Pace as I am.”
Scherr’s certificate in accounting helped him secure a position as a junior accountant at Sperry Gyroscope Company, and ultimately being sent by General Douglas MacArthur, then Chairman of the Board of the renamed Sperry Rand, to serve as acting managing director of their London operation. From Sperry Rand, Scherr moved on to Litton Industries.
“I love business. I love the opportunity to serve – to start something and make it a success,” says Scherr.
A miscommunication between a fellow Litton employee and the Matsushita Corporation resulting in a large order of Press Fax machines – used for sending newspaper layouts from the editor’s office to the printing plant - turned out to be a fortuitous mistake for Scherr. Upon leaving Litton, he and a colleague were on the forefront of this then cutting edge technology, introducing the general business fax machine worldwide. Other forays in business included motion pictures and data storage systems.
In his later years, Scherr has made an effort to pay it forward. In 2005, he received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from the US Congress for his service to the community. These days, Scherr is focused on the work that his foundation, the Vera and Walter Scherr and Family Foundation, does in partnering with the Center for Discovery, a provider of health, education, and residential services for children and adults with severe disabilities. Sparked in part by his own experience with TB as a young man and further inspired by hearing Mother Teresa while in India, Scherr is committed to honoring caregivers. His foundation has also implemented a program in Yonkers, NY, matching children in the fourth through eighth grades with role models and mentors. Of the 21 students in the program, 20 are going on to college.
“I’ve been able to have a career and then devote my senior years to helping and paying back all the good things that people did for me along the way,” he says. “You’re never too old to reinvent yourself. In order to succeed in life, you have to have a goal and have something to believe in.”
To read more about Walter Scherr and his book, Walter’s Way, go to http://waltersway.org/.