Walter Houck (1935-2022) was honored in the National Horseshoe Hall of Fame


Walter Houck, 86, of Roscoe passed away Sunday, January 2, 2022 at his daughter’s home where he had been receiving loving care for several weeks following a series of illnesses. Born June 30, 1935 in Woosung, IL to John and Sadie (Farster) Houck, he was the seventh of thirteen children coming from very humble beginnings. He learned to appreciate the simple things in life, most importantly his family, neighbors, and friends. Walt enlisted and proudly served four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and was stationed at bases in various countries. Walt married Sandy Reid in Dixon, IL on April 6, 1962. They were married for nearly 57 years prior to her passing on January 5, 2019. 

Walt worked almost 40 years for the State of Illinois before retiring as Chief Engineer of the Singer Mental Health facility in Rockford, which closed in 2012. Following his retirement from the State, he worked several years at the Tebala Shrine Temple. He was a proud lifelong Mason and Shriner who worked his way up to rank of Colonel in the Tebala Air Squadron. As a member of the Air Squadron he devoted countless hours to driving the mini-jets in hundreds of parades to raise money for the Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals. He was a very patriotic man who had a beautiful, award-winning display of flags in his yard.

This patriotism also led him to participate in the VetsRoll trip to Washington DC in 2014. He was so moved by the experience that in the following years he paid to sponsor underprivileged vets so they could get the same experience.

Walt was also very active for many years pitching horseshoes at the Roscoe VFW and the Beloit Horseshoe Club. He was class champion many times and traveled to over 50 cities in 7 states to compete in tournaments. He was a doubles champion with his grandson, John Phoenix, and they have a commemorative brick at the National Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame. He was an avid supporter of all his children’s and grandchildren’s activities and could often be found sitting in the bleachers cheering or in the audience applauding performances.

Survivors include children, Wally (Jill McBain) Houck, Sallie (Brad) Phoenix; grandchildren, Jayne Phoenix, John (Emily Mirabella) Phoenix, Sarah Phoenix; siblings, Donald Houck, Cheryl (Vernon) Shetler, Denny Houck; sisters-in-law, Bonnie Klamen, Marilyn Cibu; and many many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by parents; siblings, Bill, Mary, Darlene, Dorothy, Bob, Ber, Phyllis, Janet, and Pat.

Visitation will be held from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm Friday, January 7, 2022 in Honquest Family Funeral Home with Crematory – Roscoe Chapel, 11342 Main Street, Roscoe. Masks required. After private family services, burial will be in Willowbrook Cemetery, Roscoe. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Children’s Shriner’s Hospital or to VetsRoll.

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