Page 23 - Delta Living Magazine_october2012

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ou may have seen this tall man
underneath the hat at Antioch School board
meetings, teaching a class, attending many
special events around East Contra Costa
County, or running for a seat on the Antioch
City Council this November. With such
associations, you may have guessed he’s big on
community, but did you know Walter Ruehlig
is a five-time foster care parent and a lifetime
Walter, an Antioch resident and
Global Career Developer Facilitator,
has been
an educator for the last 44 years, and explains
why he loves teaching so much.
“I have been an educator my entire life, so
teaching for neighboring Pittsburg and being
a School Board Trustee in my own backyard
made sense,” says Walter, who has two children
and two grandchildren. “Of course, if I taught
in Antioch, I could not be on the School Board,
so it works out splendidly. I am partial, but I
think teaching is a noble profession. When you
teach your son, you teach your son’s son; the
ripples go to eternity.”
As a man who speaks three languages and
taught English-As-A-Second-Language for the
City University of New York and the Boston
School Department, Walter was motivated by
one of our great presidents to volunteer for the
Peace Corps in Sultandag, Turkey.
“I was inspired by John F. Kennedy who
started the Peace Corps. He said the best thing
we could do would be to be ambassadors of
good will to the world,” says Walter.
Creating an abundance of community events
and activities for the cities of Antioch and
Pittsburg, Walter encourages kids to volunteer
on a local and regional level.
“Youth can go on my website at www. to find a local activity
that suits them,” he says. “Or they can join a
service organization like Key Club (Kiwanis).
Tutoring classmates or younger kids is another
of my favorites.”
Walter says he was motivated to help others
based on his childhood by the words his mother
spoke to him.
“Growing up in apartments, my mother taught
me to always leave a place a bit better than you
found it,” he recalls. “I would like to say that
about my community.”
TomTorlakson, State Superintendent of Public
Instruction, has dubbed Walter ‘Ambassador
of Good Will,’ a title Walter feels unworthy to
“That’s a lot for me to live up to, as it is easy
to sometimes get dejected in the wearying game
of life, but great to fall back on that attitude of
gratitude,” says Walter. “After all, enthusiasm
comes from the Latin derivative ‘endios’ – en
(in) and dios (God). To be enthusiastic, then is
to be in God.”
Another person leaving a lasting impression
on him is Nelson Mandela.
“Here is a man who spent 27 years in prison
and would not bow to hate or bitterness,”Walter
says. “As a prisoner, he was more dignified and
freer than his captors.”
With all these influences on his life, Walter
gives back to his community and its youth. He
teaches a Career Skills Workshop, giving kids
tools on how to market themselves.
“Now when we go to church service this
Walter Ruehlig
The man underneath the hat
Inspired is as inspired does
By Latori Shepherd
ROP Journalism Student
Deer Valley High School
weekend, a pastor may tell us that the humble
shall inherit the earth. That’s true, but they
will also be unemployed! Of course, I am half
kidding (and half serious), because I know
what is meant by true humility,” says Walter.
“At the same time though, we are God’s gift to
creation. We need to celebrate our talents and
let our uniqueness shine. After all, we are all
actors on life’s stage and nobody can play you
better than you. So let it fly!”
The best advice Walter gives to teens is to
look within themselves for treasures.
“You do this through prayer, meditation,
self-reflection, self-discipline and good works.
By doing this, your character triumphs and
your inner diamond shines,” advises Walter.
“Running after the external world without
dusting off your inner mirror is like running
after fool’s gold. Fame, fortune, power and
sensuality is fleeting fun and not enduring.”
He received a Special Congressional
Recognition from Congresswoman Ellen
O. Tauscher in 2006 for his outstanding and
invaluable services to the community during
the Katrina Victim Relocation to East Contra
Costa County; however one legacy Walter says
he’d love to leave behind is his loyalty to his
“Civic awards and such are great, but
ultimately I would like to be remembered for
what I consider my greatest accomplishment
and joy in life – being a loyal and caring
husband, parent, foster parent and grandparent,”
he says.
For anyone interested in volunteering activities,
contact Walter at 925.756.7628 or walter., or visit his website at