RICHTER, WALTER HOPPE (1916 ~ 2003). Walter Hoppe Richter, State Senator, was born near Marble Falls, Texas, on September 17, 1916. After graduating from high school, he attended Southwest Texas State College, now called Texas State University, and served as editor of the campus newspaper, the Star. He was also elected student body president.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938, and a Master of Arts degree in 1939, both in journalism, Richter was employed by the College as the Director of Journalism, where he reorganized the department. To honor Richter for his contributions to the State of Texas and his alma mater, the University named him a distinguished alumnus in 1969, and named the Walter Richter Institute of Social Work Research for him. The Alumni Association also created the Walter Richter Humanitarian Award, of which he was the first recipient.
With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served as an enlisted man and later as an officer. After the War, Richter purchased the Stockdale Star in Wilson County, but later sold it to take a better paying job in Austin, even though he was known to have said that running his own newspaper was the most fun.
In 1964, Richter won a seat in the Texas Senate. He represented District 19, Gonzales and the surrounding counties, from 1963 to 1965, and served as chairman of the Governor's Committee on Aging. He also authored the legislation that made the Committee a state agency, which is now called the Texas Department on Aging.
After leaving the Senate, Governor John Connally appointed him Director of the Texas Office of Economic Opportunity. He served in that capacity until President Lyndon Johnson selected him to be Director of the Southwest regional Office of Economic Opportunity program.
After President Johnson left office in 1968, Richter lectured at The University of Texas School of Social Work and worked with the Community Council of Austin and Travis County. He was later appointed by Governor Preston Smith as the Director of the State Program on Drug Abuse. Because of his work there, he was named vice-chairman of the Council of State Drug Abuse Program Directors. From 1970 to 1971, Richter served as state chairman for the White House Conference on Children.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, Richter also served as Chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party, Executive Director of the Gonzales Warm Springs Foundation, was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the
U. S. Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board, was Co-Chairman of the Texas Environmental Coalition and was the statewide President of the United Cerebral Palsy of Texas organization. Richter also served as the Chairman of the Government Relations Committee of the Texas Social Welfare Association, which is now called United Way of Texas, and was a member of Lions International.
A journalist at heart, he continued writing columns and newsletters at every opportunity. His personal papers have been donated to the University of Texas History Center.
Senator Richter passed away on Monday, September 8, 2003, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery four days later. He is survived by his wife of sixty-two years, the former Dorothy Jean Sample, and two children, Gary and Robyn.
Information taken from: "Walter H. Richter 1916 - 2003: Ex-senator's first love was journalism," Austin American-Statesman, Tuesday, September 9, 2003; Walter Richter Institute of Social Work Research website, http://www.health.swt.edu/SOWK/wriswr/bio.htm.