Cover photo for Pilgrim George F. Walter's Obituary
Pilgrim George F. Walter Profile Photo

Pilgrim George F. Walter

July 25, 1941 — September 17, 2023

Jefferson Township, Butler County

Pilgrim George F. Walter


Age 82, George Walter of Jefferson Township, Butler County, died Sunday, September 17, 2023 after declining dialysis for kidney failure.

A religious pilgrim, Walter spent much of his life walking around the world as an eye-catching witness for Christianity.

When people asked about his destination or purpose, Walter told them he was en route to heaven.

Walter always dressed in a handmade robe of patched denim, and sandals made with tire rubber.  He always carried a staff topped with a crucifix, and always trusted God to fulfill his earthly needs.

"People ask me if I'm walking for my health and I say, 'No, I'm walking for the Lord,’ " he told a newspaper reporter in 1981.  

"People are confronted in a way they're not used to. Some are turned off. Some curse, scorn. They do all kinds of things," Walter said about his effect on people.  

"The world says happiness is found by enjoying yourself and having a good time,” he said. “I'm saying salvation is from dying for yourself.”  

Walter summed up his message to the world: “Open your heart to God’s love for you, and you will find peace, joy and happiness, now and forever.”  

A tall, cheery man with intensely direct, blue eyes, Walter lived each day with a heart full of faith.

"I have no regular income. People are led to give me money. But I would rather be given a sandwich or a place to sleep, " he said in a 1982 story printed in the former Pittsburgh Press.

As a sign of his vocation, Walter grew a full beard in 1967 and never trimmed it after 1988.

Born July 25, 1941, Walter was the son of the late Florian and Mary Rita Walter, formerly of Hampton Township.

He is survived by brother Thomas Walter (Christine) of Albany, N.Y, nephews Andrew T. Walter (Kelly), Michael P. Walter, Matthew R. Walter (Alison), nieces Pamela J. Walter and Allison C. Hirsch (Matthew), plus, five grandnieces and three grandnephews.

Walter was predeceased by another brother, Paul Walter, who died in 2009.

Celebrate Pilgrim George's life with his family on Friday from 3-6:30 PM at Perman Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., 923 Saxonburg Boulevard, Shaler Township at Route 8. A Paristasis Service will be held on Friday at 6:30 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, 2510 Middle Road, Glenshaw on Saturday at 10 AM. The family respectfully suggests donations be made to Blessed Trinity Academy, 2510 Middle Road, Glenshaw PA 15116.

A graduate of the former St. Mary of the Assumption School in Indiana Township, Walter originally planned to become a Roman Catholic priest and spent four years at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Westmoreland County, before he requested a leave of absence, headed for the West Coast, and “got into many wrong things,” he said.

In the late 1960s, Walter found himself in the mountains of Colorado. He said the mountains' beauty inspired in him a sense of God's power and love.

In 1970, Walter made his first religious pilgrimage from Barcelona, Spain, to Jerusalem.

In the following years, Walter walked more than 40,000 miles to religious shrines in more than 40 countries. His trips included walks through India and the former Soviet Union.

One summer, Walter walked from Hampton to Mexico with a donkey.

“When I was in India, I was always wet, either from sweating or from the monsoon rains,” he said.

How did Walter cope with each summer's heat?

“By the grace of God,” he said. “When you live outside all the time, you adjust to it.”

In 2013, Walter ended his long-distance treks with a pilgrimage through Ohio.

During his four decades of treks, Walter typically walked from May through August, and carried about 40 pounds of gear, including a tent, soap and a filter to purify the water he drank from streams.

From September to May, Walter typically lived as a religious hermit and wrote about his transcontinental experiences. 

From 1974 to 1988, Walter lived in an abandoned pumphouse in the woods behind St. Mary Church at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish on Middle Road in Hampton. 

During those years, Walter also volunteered with the former Children of Yahweh charismatic teen ministry in McKees Rocks. 

Walter spent the last 10 years surrounded by fields of corn in a small house on the grounds of the former Holy Trinity Byzantine Monastery in Jefferson Township, Butler County.

To mark his 75th birthday, Walter, a former Boy Scout, made a candle holder of black walnut wood depicting the number 75.  

A woodworker like Jesus Christ, Walter also made his own casket of wood from cherry, hickory and black walnut trees.

Walter was a 1963 graduate of the Athenaeum of Ohio (Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology in Cincinnati), where he received a bachelor 's degree in philosophy.

Walter also received a bachelor of divinity degree when he attended St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe from 1963 to 1967.

Walter wrote two books "A Pilgrim Finds the Way" (Typecraft Press, 1988) and "The 40 Thousand Mile Man: Odyssey of a Pilgrim" (Word Association Publishers, 2019).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Pilgrim George F. Walter, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Friday, September 22, 2023

3:00 - 6:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Prayer Service

Friday, September 22, 2023

6:30 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Paristasis Service

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Funeral Service

Saturday, September 23, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Mary of the Assumption Church

2510 Middle Road Glenshaw, PA 15116, 00000

Mass of Christian Burial

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