Former Beyond Housing Board Member and longtime contributor George Herbert ‘Bert’ Walker III died on Saturday, January 18th at a hospice facility in St. Louis. He was 88. Bert was a cousin of two presidents, a former United States ambassador to Hungary, and a prominent St. Louis businessman and philanthropist.
He grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and graduated from the Groton School in Massachusetts before earning a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1953, and a law degree from Harvard in 1955. After serving two years in the Air Force, he moved to St. Louis in 1958 to work for a financial services company founded by George Herbert Walker, the grandfather he shared with his first cousin, George H.W. Bush, who also grew up in Greenwich. Bert was later chairman and CEO of Stifel, Nicolaus and Company, which grew significantly under his leadership and which he took public in 1982.
George W. Bush appointed Mr. Walker ambassador to Hungary in 2003, about a year before Hungary withdrew its troops from the Iraq war. He worked to maintain positive relations with the country, serving as ambassador until 2006.
His obituary ended with this moving and appropriate language, “Bert’s colleagues, friends, and family will remember him for his accomplishments in business, his service as an ambassador, his philanthropy, and his love for and pride in his family, children and grandchildren. They will remember his warmth and energy, his humility, his optimism, and the ways he made the world a better place. But most of all, they loved and will remember him for his kindness.” According to Beyond Housing CEO Chris Krehmeyer, “Bert was one of the kindest, most sincere, and thoughtful persons I have ever met. Beyond Housing and the St. Louis region were blessed to have Bert support us and push us to be better.”