Walter Scott was born in Montreal. His parents were Scots and when he was three years old they moved to Boston. At the age of ten, he managed a small fruit store near Harvard College where he sold apples and plums. One of his customers was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the age of 15 he was employed by the Butler Brothers, wholesale distributors of general merchandise, and at the age of 18 moved to New York City. In 1932, he retired as senior vice president after fifty-four years of continuous service. On the day of his retirement, his office was filled with flowers and telegrams came from President Hoover and former President Coolidge.
Colonel Scott became very wealthy and gave his money to worthy causes like the Scottish Old Peoples Home in Riverside. He endowed beds at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and aided in the work of the Trudeau Tuberculosis Research Work. He endowed scholarships at Smith College, Flora MacDonald College, American International College, Centenary Collegiate Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology. He was a trustee of the Clarke School for the Deaf, Northampton, Mass. He created the Walter Scott Industrial School for children located in New York City at 53 West Sixty-eight Street and the Lulu Thorley Lyons Home for Crippled and Delicate Children at Claverack, New York. He was a founder of the New York Broad Street Hospital.
He had a lifelong interest in policemen and firemen. He was an honorary Police Commissioner of New York and whenever a policeman or a fireman lost their life in the performance of duty he always sent a check to the grieving family. “He created a perpetual endowment to provide a medal to be awarded annually to a policeman or fireman in New York, Boston, Worcester, Holyoke, and Detroit for outstanding bravery in the course of duty.” In 2005 the Walter Scott Medal was awarded to Firefighter Thomas P. Maxwell, Ladder Company 44, New York City. In 2005 at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, Yiqin Chang won The Colonel Walter Scott Prize in Mathematics.
The New York Times dated, November 29, 1935, said: “Colonel Walter Scott, Past Royal Chief of the Order of Scottish Clans in the United States and Canada and former senior vice president of Butler Brothers, died at 4:30 A. M. yesterday at his home, 225 West Eighty-sixth Street, after an illness of two years. He was 73 years old.” He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. A walk by his home address showed a large square condominium type building, covering almost an entire block and built in a square. The interior courtyard is now a beautiful garden and there was once a covered entrance for one’s horse and carriage that now serves as a guard house. I have visited his grave in Greenwood cemetery. He has a small stone marker. It is a long, long walk from the subway station to his grave in Greenwood.
For many years, Colonel Scott was a familiar figure at all Scottish gatherings and was a member of several Robert Burns clubs. He was a close friend of Miss Jean Armour Burns Brown of Dumfries, a great-great-grand-daughter of the poet and he was also a descendant of his name sake, Sir Walter Scott. Among his old friends was Sir Harry Lauder. His clubs are too many to list and so are his honors, but he received the Silver Grand Cross of the Republic of Austria, a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and a member of the Belgian Order of Leopold II. During World War I, he was a member of the New York Scottish Highlanders and was also a manager of the St. Andrew’s Society of New York.
In his will he wrote, “I have always felt an impelling desire to accomplish something definite in conferring happiness and relieving distress as conditions permitted me during my life, that I might not defer until after I had passed on an act that might stimulate a heart with joy, bring a smile to a tear worn face, help a struggling student or extend a helping hand to those afflicted with disease for an opportunity passed to do good is lost forever. I strove to remember my friends while living and to share their joys; I endowed hospital beds to assist those whose needs were immediate. To the extent of my abilities I encouraged all civic enterprises and encouraged the extension of educational facilities to students who were self-supporting.”
In one of our coming issue we will write about his wife, Mrs. Irene Elliott Benson Scott and his daughter Edith Scott Magna of Holyoke, Mass.