By Nick Nahas

Walter Pearson has lived an extraordinary life. The World War II veteran turned 101 this past February. At 29, he volunteered to serve his country, fighting in the second World War. He risked his life in the front lines of the battlefields for eight months. After serving, his commitment to country, community and the American people continued.

For the last 12 years, Walter and his son, Don, have sponsored a Toys for Tots collection party in the Southshore area. Held at the Alley at Southshore each December, their collection party has become the biggest in the state. Just last year they have collected 378 bikes,100 boxes of toys and a little over $11,000 in cash.
Walter and Don have also contributed to military organizations and churches in the area. “My father being an Army veteran, wanted to help other people, and I, myself, have a compassion for those in need,” said Don. “We both have been blessed with more than enough to be able to give back to the community.”

Walter is a celebrated part of the Strawberry Ridge retirement community, where he currently resides. Every Monday morning, Walter plays duplicate bridge, a card game, with approximately 30 players in the recreational building at Strawberry Ridge. According to one of the players in the group, partners Walter and Don “win all the time.” “Walter is an energizer bunny and extremely sharp for his age,” said Joan Rhyne.

Walter has been playing the game for about 92 years, and with all that experience under his belt, he has achieved the highest level of mastery of the game. The retirement community and other players in the surrounding area celebrate Walter’s birthday biannually, once on February 5th (his birthday,) and once on August 5th. The party consists of having dinner, drinking and playing duplicate bridge.

Walter is also the chairman of the board of his company, Pearson Capital, Inc, which he started back in 1956 in Massachusetts. Walter continues to work part-time for his company, researching stocks. The successful private money management firm has over 500 customers, reaching a total of 26 states today. Don jokes that his father was back at work the next morning after the Super Bowl, even though they are both Patriots’ fans and stayed up to watch the whole game.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.