Walter William Gulka, FHG 171, was a member of the 1949 Fort Henry Guard for only one year. I had talked him into joining because of his tremendous musical talent and thought he could train more buglers and fifers, but the Director was more focused on a fife band. He left the Guard after the one season for a better paying summer job.
Walt was born on September 18, 1931 in Toronto and his family moved to Kingston in 1943. He joined the Grade 8 class at Rideau Public School , went to KCVI and then to the University of Toronto where he was also the conductor of the U of T Marching Band. He had an exceptionally successful career as an educator and as a professional musician. He was a principal at several Toronto high schools before moving to Thunder Bay in 1970 where his wife Lillian’s family was from. He was principal at several high schools there as well.
During the 1950’s and 60’s he played trombone professionally with many of the leading dance bands in Muskoka and Toronto, playing with some of the top entertainers of the era. In Thunder Bay he spent 44 years with the Thunder Bay Symphony, retiring at age 80.
He moved to an Ottawa retirement residence in 2021 to be closer to his family there and passed away on May 29, 2022. He is survived by his daughters Lianne, Leslie and Larissa, grandson Marko, several nieces and nephews and sons-in-law, as well as his sister and brother-in-law Joanne and Roger Campbell. Lillian passed away in 2011.
It was written about Walt that as much as he embraced life, life certainly embraced him.
By Doug Thompson, FHG 154