Joe and Cathy Walser
January 23, 2020
By Karen Gottovi
Joe and Cathy are longtime residents of Carolina Bay. They signed up in June of 2012, and moved in right after the building was finished in November 2015. They love it here – Cathy doesn’t have to cook and she enjoys reading her Kindle on the treadmill. Joe finds the exercises classes and the “gym” convenient and helpful. They both like interacting with the interesting and friendly residents and enjoy the food! Before they moved to Carolina Bay, they lived at Drayton Square for 15 years. They moved to Wilmington because Cathy’s sister lived here then, and they wanted a warmer climate.
Joe and Cathy met on a blind date when Cathy was a junior at Salem College in Winston Salem. She was born and raised in Charlotte. Joe was at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, getting a Masters in Religious Studies. They were “fixed up” by a mutual friend, fell in love, and were married one week after Cathy graduated from Salem. She worked as a secretary in Durham for Home Security Life Insurance as a secretary while Joe finished up his PhD at Duke.
In 1964, Joe accepted a position at Alma College in the middle of the state of Michigan, as a professor of Bible, world religions and archeology. He also served as Chaplin of the college, and was ordained in the Presbyterian church so that he could perform weddings. Joe never “had” a church, but filled the pulpits of other ministers when they needed him. He also coached the tennis team.
Alma was a great place to raise children, and Joe and Cathy really loved their time there. Cathy volunteered with community programs and with the larger church. They have two children, a married daughter who lives in Chicago and teaches French and English, and a son who is a professor of Asian religions at Tufts University in Boston. He and his wife and two children live in Brooklyn, but he commutes every week to Boston to teach.
The highlight of their time at Alma, were the 15 years of summer archeology digs in Israel near Beer Sheva and Arad. They trained students from Alma and other colleges, who earned academic credit while they dug at sites in the desert. They all lived in two-man wall tents captured from the Syrian army (complete with bullet holes,) and had very primitive living conditions near a water station built by the British. The most important find was when Joe uncovered the basement of a residence that was in very good condition with intact pottery and other relics. Cathy also found a perfect Roman oil juglet. They gave their extensive collection of oil lamps purchased in Israel to the Cameron Art Museum when they moved to Carolina Bay. They also have other small pieces in a glass case on the coffee table.
Another great experience for the Walsers’ was their time in Southern India where they set up a program for Alma students to teach in a very rural area. They have been to India three times, and their son was married in India.