Walter John Tennant, Jr. 78, of Cortland passed away Friday, March 23 at his home. Walt was born September 20, 1933 in Cortland, the eldest son of the late Walter John Tennant, Sr. and Ruth Redfield Tennant.
After completing Cortland High School, Walt attended Union College in Schenectady, NY. Graduating in 1955 with a degree in Civil Engineering, he did six months on active military duty. Beginning his career as an engineer, his jobs at Allis-Chalmers and Wickstrom Construction took him to Milwaukee, WI, Skaneateles, NY, Kittery, Maine and Messina, NY. At the age of 33 he was the youngest and the first professional civil engineer ever appointed to the position of Highway Superintendent (for Cortland County Highways). Walt retired from the County after more than 30 years of service and was lauded for his integrity and high standards.
Walt held several leadership roles throughout his life including President of his college fraternity, Sigma Chi, and President of the National Association of County Engineers. He also played a significant role as a member of the Homer Library Board, the Cortland Business Development Board, and the Newman Foundation ââ€š¬Â¦ he was especially adept at getting people to work together.
After retirement, Walts travels took him to China, Belgium, England, India, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland ââ€š¬Â¦ and back to China! He enjoyed many pleasurable hours golfing with his family and friends both at Elm Tree and in Myrtle Beach where he kept a condo for the winters. Other favorite pursuits involved watching sports, enjoying his grandchildren and attending Sunday School.
Walt is survived by his three children, Margaret Tennant of Littleton, CO, Scot (Angela) Tennant of Geneva, IL, Elizabeth Tennant of Littleton, CO; his three grandchildren Madeline Tennant (Loras College), Sarah Tennant (Carroll University) and Benjamin Tennant of Geneva, IL; and his sister Grace (Roger) Schneckenburger of Glenwood, NY, his brother Philip (Diane) Tennant of Cortland, NY, his sister Janet (Dennis) Heslink of Clymer, NY; as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his wife and companion Elvira, of 49 years.
Funeral Services will be held Thursday at 11:00 am at the Wright-Beard Funeral Home 9 Lincoln Ave with the Revered Allan J Ferguson officiating.
Interment will be in Scott Union Cemetery.
Friends are invited to call Wednesday evening from 4-7 pm at the funeral home
In lieu of flowers please send donations in Walts name to the Phillips Free Library, 31 S. Main St. Homer or the Cortland Co. SPCA., 879 McLean Rd. Cortland.
To offer on line condolences visit www.wright-beard.com
We will miss you, Walt, on Wednesday afternoons. My sympathy to the Tennant family.-Scott Goodrich
I, like so many of the "old timers" Highway Superintendants, want to pass on to Walt and Elvira's family my sorrow at the news. I came to Cortland to be with Walt at Elvira's wake and I'm sorry I can not be there Wednesday. He was a very special friend for so many years. He will be missed greatly but his memory will live on indeed in the many things he acccomplished so well with little fanfair. We were all blessed to have him as a colleague and close friend. fred austin
Beth, Scott & Margaret, We are down in Myrtle Beach, where we usually meet you dad, but this year he went home before we got here. We were so shocked and sad to hear the news. We won't be back until after the services are over, otherwise we would be there. He was so proud of each one of you. He was a friend that will be truly missed. Love to all of you. Mike & Sue Morgan
Meeting Walt as a member of the NOMADS Golf group was one of lifes great pleasures. Walter was a very generous, funny, and friendly man. He always added to any gathering he was a part of. He will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him. Best reards to his family and friends. Ernie Goldacker
It has been my pleasure to have known Walt for 40 yrs. He was a wonderful example to so many that live and work in Cortland County. Most recently I have served on the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board with Walt representing Cortland County. We had a meeting at Greek Peak last fall and Walt had a decision to make, should he ride the new Mountain Coster. He decided yes, and even though it was difficult, he squeezed into the cart and buckle the shoulder harness. He did it. The smile on his face riding at full speed down the hill at Greek Peak was like a teenage boy! He loved it and thanked me for encouraging him to ride. I will fondly remember that day, that ride and the lunch we shared. Walt's example and work ethic was his gift to me. Fond regards my friend, rest in peace. Jim Murphy
Very sorry to hear about Walt. As a Nomad we enjoyed his friendship,smile,love of golf and family and a good cold beer when we came in after playing. The Nomads will miss him and on behalf of the group and both myself and my wife Maggie we all are thinking of him and will look forward to seeing him as we all come together again. Len Argentine Sr
knew Walt through the New York State County Highway Superintendent's Association and also the National Association of County Engineers. I was very sad to hear of his passing. He was truly one of the great men I have had the pleasure of meeting in my life. One of those men that you look up to and aspire to be like. A role model. Walt and I were often times the only New York delegates to the NACE conference. We traveled across the country to see each other even though we only lived a few hours away. It was always easy to make up for lost time with Walt. His big grin was always a welcome comfort in a new city with strange people. I will miss his presence at NACE and I know there are many from NACE and the NACE Former Leaders (NFL) that will miss him as well. My sincere condolences, Tim Hens Highway Superintendent Genesee County, NY
Our prayers are with Phil and Scot and Walter's family. Many stories can be told of the golfing pleasures Sharon and I have had over the many years we have had the pleasure of knowing Walt..He touched our lives and many others. May they have beer and an early tee time for you buddy. Wayne & Sharon Clark
Beth, Scott, and Margaret: May your memories of your father put a smile on your heart. Your father was a good man, a public servant, an example for all to follow... Our sympathies, John Bellardini and Family
So sorry to hear of the loss of Walt. While not a NOMAD, Walt welcomed me into one of his other prestigious groups, the NFL - NACE Former Leaders. I truly looked forward to our annual gathering as Walt always made me feel like I belonged! He was a great engineer and friend! This week will not be the same without him. Susan Miller, Freeborn County Engineer, MN
My sincere condolences to all the family. I am in Florida or I would be present to linger with friends and family over the many memories of golf & life experienced with Walt on those many Saturday & Sunday mornings at Elm Tree. Pacce lingua
Beth, Scott, and Margaret. We were very sorry to read of your dad's passing. He was well liked by all who knew him. Our prayers are with you all. Dick and Mary Wagner
I served with Walt for many years on the Board of Directors of COMCO Development Corp. and later the Central New York Economic Development Corporation. Though I cannot claim to have known him well, I could tell that he was a highly respected and admired person in his community and beyond. I was impressed by his friendly and professional demeanor at meetings. He was knowledgeable about economic development and loyal to Cortland County, which he represented well on the COMCO and CNYEDC Boards. We will miss him. joseph D. Russo
Its hard to say goodby to an old friend and buddy. Walt and I, along with Elvira & Virginia enjoyed each others company more than any of the friends we met through our association wit NACE. Time will heal the hurt somewhat but there will always be an emptiness. May God bless you in your time of sorrow and go with you in the future. Sam Jaynes
Walt was a great friend and a gentleman. He is sadly missed. My heart felt sympathy to all his family. Tony Ferro & Family
Janet, Grace & Phil: My sincere condolences on your loss. You are in my thoughts as you say goodbye. Ginger Brady
...I share with sadness the passing of Walt---we grew up together and shared many life experiences. I considered him one of my best friends. His kindness will always be remembered. Doug Nichols
Walt was a very respected man and boss. I enjoyed working for him. Jacquelin B. Birmingham
It is with saddness and shock to hear about Walter's passing. Our sincere condolences to his family. His neighbors at Myrtle Beach...Carl & Cheryl Colgan
I am so sorry to hear of Walter's death. He was a good neighbor here in Myrtle Beach and we will miss him.You are in my thoughts and prayers.