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Margaret Christa Walters

October 18, 1934 – May 7, 2024

Margaret Christa Walters passed away peacefully on May 7th, 2024 at her home on Bainbridge Island WA at the age of 89.  Gretel was born October 18, 1934 at her grandfather’s home in Schwenningen Germany, the daughter of Christian and Martha Fleig Schnekenburger.

She was raised in Germany’s Black Forest region with fond childhood memories of hiking, biking and berry picking. These memories were tempered by spending time in air raid shelters, food shortages, and living eight years without her father who spent four years in the German army during WWII and then four more years in a Russian prison camp.  

In search of new adventures, Gretel emigrated to the U.S. in 1957 and Americanized her name to Margaret.  She worked as an au pair and then for Lufthansa, first in Boston and then Denver, before raising her family.  She graduated at age 18 from a business apprentice school in Germany, but waited until after raising her children to pursue college, graduating with a BA in Foreign Languages from Metropolitan State College in Denver in 1995 at the age of 61.  

Her joys in life were the mountains, travel, church, and family. Her love of skiing began in the Black Forest hills where she had to first hike up to enjoy a ski run down.  She was an active member of the Schwarzwaldverein Mountaineering Club, hiking and ski trekking throughout the Alps.  In America she again sought out the mountains – first in Stowe, VT and then in Colorado.  She joined the ski patrol at Arapahoe Basin in 1963 and in 1964 decided to spend $5 for a lift ticket to try a new ski area called Vail that had opened two years earlier.  There, at the top of a ski lift, she met the love of her life, Charles Walters.  They wed on August 7, 1965 and were happily married for 53 years until Chuck’s passing in 2018; they skied together for 52 of those 53 winters.

Travel was a lifelong passion that Margaret developed while working for Lufthansa thanks to free and discounted tickets.  Later in life, she and Chuck travelled the world, experiencing 6 of the 7 continents and 68 different countries -- including a summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at the age of 62. 

Faith continually sustained Margaret, who was devoted to her spiritual community at Arvada Presbyterian Church for over 50 years and to Cross Sound Church after moving to WA in 2018.  

Margaret loved and appreciated family and nurtured lifelong connections with everyone in her extended family.  She enjoyed researching and creating detailed genealogy albums as well as documenting family vacations and reunions with her camera.  

Margaret was predeceased by her husband, Chuck Walters; parents, Christian and Martha Fleig Schnekenburger; stepmother, Ilse Schairer Schnekenburger; sister, Hildegard Kaefer; and nephew, Wolfgang Kaefer.  She is survived by her three sons, Fred (Liz) of Bainbridge Island, WA; Ken (Jodi) of Portland, OR; and Chris (Laurie) of Everett, WA; her seven grandchildren, Sarah, Ethan, Lauren, Paige, Claire, Margo, and Elise; her brother, Rolf (Gudrun) Schnekenburger; and five nieces and nephews, Helga, Barbie, Christof, Ira and Kai.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, May 18th at 11am at Bainbridge First Baptist Church.  The service will also be live streamed on Bainbridge First Baptist’s YouTube channel. Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or to Island Volunteer Caregivers of Bainbridge Island. 


I remember Margaret very fondly as she came to pickleball at the APEX Rec Center here is Arvada, CO. I was the instructor and she was such a delight to be around, She picked the game up quickly and I believe she enjoy the game and all the people there. She was a special and I can not see that as I read her life story! What a amazing person she was and is, God bless her.
Tom Carney

I really enjoyed knowing Margaret during our golfing days at Indian Tree in Arvada, Co.
Having met her Family at her celebration in the park, I wanted to thank them for letting me know about Margaret's passing.
It was a pleasure to have her for a friend.
Claire Bachofer
Golden, Co. 80403

Margaret and I met playing golf at Indian Tree golf course, in Arvada CO. We bonded in personalities, when I first joined in 1996. We would make early Tee times and golf at 6:30 in the mornings, whenever we could, as a twosome and would golf, have great conversations, and fun being together, and trying to conquer the course. Before she moved to Washington, we shared many lunches, sometimes with her husband Chuck…she’s invited myself and members of my family to her wonderful slide shows put to music, and showed her wonderful eye for taking pictures of all of her and Chucks adventures on all of her exciting trips together. Climbing Kilimanjaro was an amazing trip that they took, in their 60’s. She was an amazing woman, and will be greatly missed. When golfing, she told me about her memory albums that she was putting together for her sons. She would hum a certain song, and I could come up with the name, so she could include it at a certain place in the different albums. She was a wonderful friend, and she will greatly be missed. The World was a better place with her in it.

Zelda Bahmeier

Tante Gretel was mostly far away from Germany, but always somehow kept contact. She was carrying for others, - an encouraging, humorous, open minded and positive person. I benfited from her family album and the exchange about it. And I am a fan from her piano playing until the age of 89. I am happy to have had Gretel as aunt.
Thank you, Gretel .

Barbie Käfer, Frankfurt/Germany

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