Longtime local builder Doyle Walz dies at 86

02/22/2011 12:00 AM

02/22/2011 12:04 AM

Wichita City Hall. Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. 250 Douglas Place, formerly the Holiday Inn Plaza downtown.

Doyle Walz had a hand in the construction of those buildings and dozens of others across Wichita and the state as the co-owner of Coonrod and Walz Construction Co., now Walz Harman Huffman Construction.

Mr. Walz, 86, died Thursday.

The son of a building contractor during the Depression, Mr. Walz was drafted into the Army serving as a combat engineer in France and Germany during World War II.

He later attended Kansas State University where he graduated in 1950 with a degree in civil engineering. Mr. Walz's family said his company constructed more than half a dozen buildings on the campus of his alma mater.

"He was a life-long Wildcat," said Anita Schwarz, his daughter.

Mr. Walz's first construction job in Wichita was with Blazer Construction, where he worked as an estimator.

A few years later he hired on at Vollmer Construction, where he and Carl Coonrod were named as partners. Vollmer eventually became Coonrod and Walz.

Mr. Walz retired in 1984.

"He made time for us kids and his grandchildren even though he was very busy," Schwarz said.

John Culver, owner of Parks Motors, met Mr. Walz about six years ago. Culver said he was interested in buying Mr. Walz's ranch.

"He had hands the size of a small dinner plate, and when he shook hands he used two hands," Culver said. "I came away from having visited with him thinking, this is the warmest, most sincere guy I ever met."

Culver also said if someone ever wanted to be a successful businessman who was well regarded years after leaving the business world, Mr. Walz was the example.

"He was really an interesting, fun guy," Culver said. "He was one of those guys, no question about it, he left (the world) in a better place."

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