“I Look Forward to a Visitor Everyday”
Walter Sulflow got to Oahu just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Extraordinary measures were in place to prevent another air raid and a mandatory blackout blanketed the island. “It didn’t make any difference where you were. You couldn’t even strike a match,” recalls Mr. Sulflow who was stationed in Honolulu as part of the 5th Army Medical Depot.
But he was far from the only member of his family who answered the call to duty during World War II. Four of his brothers were also in the military, one of his sisters served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, and another brother was a top mechanic who helped build P-38 fighter planes at Lockheed. “We were all gung-ho to go,” Mr. Sulflow explains. A year after Mr. Sulflow arrived in Hawaii, his older brother August was killed in action when his B-24 bomber exploded. In fact, the family’s contribution to the war effort was so significant that one California newspaper referred to the Sulflow siblings’ mom, Ruth, as the state’s number one war mother.
When the fighting ended, Walter Sulflow returned to California where he soon met the love of his life, Ruth Sulflow (nee Carlson). “I stopped at a little tavern in Burbank and I noticed this girl waiting on tables. I got to talking to her and the more I talked to her, the more interested I got,” he says with a chuckle. He asked her for a date, a romance eventually blossomed, and the couple got married on July 8, 1948. Mr. and Mrs. Sulflow, who were married for 60 years, raised four daughters together. To support his growing family, Mr. Sulflow worked for a company that built water heaters, and later got hired by a firm that manufactured heavy machinery such as gravel shakers.
Mr. Sulflow retired in the early 90’s. He and his wife decided to move to the Austin-area to be near one of their daughters, so the couple bought a home in Plfugerville in 1992. Sixteen years later, Ms. Sulflow passed away after a courageous battle with cancer - a deadly byproduct of her job during World War II. “She was a ship welder. They say over time she got into that asbestos stuff. It was inoperable,” her husband says.
Now 95-years-old, Mr. Sulflow lives alone in the house he once shared with his wife. Two of his daughters reside in Texas and come to see him every weekend. Three years ago, one of them was concerned he wasn’t eating right during the week and suggested he call Meals on Wheels Central Texas. “I said yes because I’m not a good cook and I’ve been with Meals on Wheels ever since,” says Mr. Sulflow. “They’re very good,” he says of our hot nutritious lunches. But he also looks forward to visiting with the volunteers who bring him his meals: “They (the visits) mean a lot. I’m not quite as lonesome as I was before. I’d sit here and think and start getting sad-eyed. But it’s gotten better since I’ve been with Meals on Wheels. I think my life is better….because I look forward to a visitor every day. So I feel good about that.”