By Cypress Cove Resident Donna Miceli
On any given day, residents may hear the sound of accordion music coming from one of the common areas on the first or second floor. The person behind the music is Walter Siewert, who has been entertaining residents since he moved to Cypress Cove in 2014. He particularly enjoys hospital volunteer work and regularly plays his accordion at HealthPark Medical Center.
According to an article that appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Cove Currents, Walter is a self-trained musician who plays by ear. His love of music began at a young age, when he started playing the harmonica, and served as a source of comfort for him and his family during a difficult childhood in war torn Germany.
A native of Latvia, Walter and his family were moved to Poland after the German invasion. In 1945, they were evacuated to East Germany when the Russian Army invaded. After his father was conscripted into the German Army, the family ended up in Dresden during the Allied firebombing. Walter was just eight years old at the time.
“The hunger is impossible to describe, scrounging for food in any form necessary to survive,” Walter remembered. They finally settled in an area outside Dresden that ultimately became West Germany.
Eventually, Walter and his family were reunited with their father and immigrated to America in 1952, thanks to the sponsorship of his grandmother, who had immigrated in the 1920s. It was not an easy transition for Walter, who didn’t speak English, but was fluent in German, and spoke some Polish and Russian. However, within five months, he had learned enough English to enter high school. He then attended vocational school, which led to his introduction to baking.
Walter’s interest in baking actually began when he obtained a job washing pans at a bakery. He eventually worked his way into the baking side of the business and his love for baking grew. He continued his education and ultimately earned the distinction of Master Baker Chef. At the time Walter’s story appeared in the 2016 issue of Cove Currents, he was one of approximately 360 Certified Master Baker Chefs in the United States.
Without a doubt, Walter was hooked on the profession and, with the support of his wife Carol, built a successful business, beginning with the purchase of one bakery and then another. In the beginning, he focused on all types of pastries, but as his business grew, he began concentrating on cakes. His Party Bake Shop specialized in wedding cakes of all kinds—even some that could fill an eight-foot table. Butter cakes were a particular favorite in the Philadelphia area and Walter became well known for his skill in making them.
In addition to running his successful business, Walter served in several prestigious roles in Philadelphia, including president of the Business Association and director of the Master Bakers Association. Through it all, Walter’s love for music continued to play a role in his life. For 25 years he sang at various social events and was a regular at the area’s German Club.
After retiring from the bakery business, Walter and Carol moved to Cape Coral where, as Walter was quoted in the 2016 article, they “enjoyed the good life” until Carol died from A.L.S. He found solace in his music as he worked through the grieving process.
After moving to Cypress Cove in 2014, Walter met Judith, who had moved to Cypress Cove after losing her husband of 53 years, and they were married that November. Neither of them had planned to remarry, but, as Walter concluded, “God works in mysterious ways.”