Table of Contents
Collection Overview +/-
Collection Inventory +/-
Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-
Walter Gerard Pontz was born July 6, 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Parke M. Pontz and Jeanette Gosslink Pontz. His father served as Treasurer of Westminster College from 1921-1955 and the family lived near the campus. Walter had one brother, Donald Pontz, who graduated from Westminster College and later worked as a chemist for Dow Chemical Company, living in Midland, Michigan. Walter attended South High School in Salt Lake City, and then Westminster College (Class of 1937) and University of Utah (1940) majoring in art.
Walter Pontz entered army military service on July 10, 1940. After training at Ft. Roberts (Calif.), Ft. Lewis (Wash.) and Ft. Ord (Calif.), he was assigned to the infantry and received officer training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In October 1942 he was sent overseas to North Africa, where he died a few months later in a prisoner-of-war hospital in Tunisia on January 20, 1943, from injuries he received during combat in North Africa. Pontz was serving as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in World War II at the time. Army records list Pontz as a POW, detained by German forces, and give his date of death as his last date of report. According to the Salt Lake Tribune March 6, 1949 article "Last Rites Set By Legion For Lt. Pontz", Pontz received Last Rites by the American Legion Post No. 65 at a graveside service on March 5th, nearly six years after his death. The article also notes that Pontz was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.
The 1937 Etosian (Pontz's graduating year) feature Pontz in both his school photograph and several other club photographs (choir, "The Music Master," Stevenson Memorial Association, and International Relations Club). Pontz was active in these clubs as well as the Glee Club, Westminster Players (as President) Delta Psi Omega (Secretary), "W" Club, Wrestling, and performed in "Jazz Wedding," "Trial by Jury," "Pageant of the Holy Nativity," and "The Green Ghost."
During the war, Westminster College sponsored an Alumni Service Flag. The flag was decorated with two types of stars: regular stars represented alumni who were currently serving in the war, and gold stars represented alumni who had given their lives for their country. Though news of alumni serving in the war undoubtedly spread by word of mouth throughout the Westminster community, the status of alumni serving in the war as well as new additions to the Alumni Service Flag were reported regularly in the Utah Westminster. The Utah Westminster would typically give some idea as to how many regular stars were on the flag at the time of the report, and mention new additions to the gold stars. Brief information regarding type of service and location was given for each alumnus represented by a gold star, and the information typically did not include any biographical data. Walter Gerard Pontz was represented by the fourth gold star added to this flag (Utah Westminster, Vol. 29, No. 9). Pontz was further memorialized by Westminster College and its community when the western staircase leading to Converse Hall was dedicated in his name.
Content Description +/-
This small collection contains documents that belonged to Walter Gerard Pontz (1918–1943), and are believed to have been in the possession of his father, Parke M. Pontz, who served as the Westminster College Treasurer from 1921-1954. Walter Pontz was a Class of 1937 graduate of Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah. The materials in this collection, dated 1937-1949, include identification cards, lists of military personnel by division, personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
The correspondence (Box 1, Folder 1) consist of two private handwritten letters to Walter Pontz. This first is undated, written to Pontz ("Darling") from his wife Betty while he was just about to leave, and presumably tucked into his luggage to be read later. The letter reflects the love, worries, and hope of a wife unsure what the future holds for her husband. The second letter, dated August 25, 1942 from Pella, Iowa is addressed to "Dear Walt" from an unidentified relative ("Sally"). She writes of the weather, shopping in Oskaloosa, saving to buy Defense Bonds, and other homefront war efforts. She mentions reading a newspaper clipping from the Salt Lake Daily that "your Dad is quite a farmer" and closes with "Grandma sends her love".
The identification cards (Box 1, Folder 2) belonging to Walter Pontz are as follows: draft card, draft notice, Utah driver's license, military business card, University of Utah Alumni Association card (Class of '39), a registered article receipt, Utah State Employment Service identification card, a business card bearing the name "David Allen Bramlett, Lieutenant, Army of the United States", and two "W.G. Pontz, Lieutenant, Infantry, A.U.S" cards.
The lists of military personnel by division and regiment (Box 1, Folder 3) contain the names of individuals (and their occupation) organized by their corresponding divisions (7th through 16th). The significance of these records is not certain—it is possible that the list belonged to Pontz's father and was used to keep track of local Utah soldiers from the Westminster College community and nearby environs.
The newspaper clippings file (Box 1, Folder 4) contains a photocopy of six articles dated 1949. Two are obituaries of Walter Pontz, one from the Salt Lake Tribune and "In Memoriam" believed to have been featured in the Utah Westminster. Once again, these are likely clippings made by Walter's parents.
The photographs file (Box 1, Folder 5) contains two photographs and a pen-and-ink drawing. One features a woman getting ready to throw a snowball; on the back of the photo, the word "Duck!" is written. There is no identification given for the woman, though it is most likely Pontz's wife Betty. The second photograph is one of a mountain road; there is no notation attached to the photograph that would allude to the location. The ink drawing is of a stubble-faced "G.I. Joe" wearing a helmut and trenchcoat; on the verso is an address for "L. Corp. Wise ... c/o G.P.O. Crew, Cheshire, England.
Collection Use +/-
Restrictions on Access:
Open to public research.
Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law, in particular the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), for 75 years. Any restricted records are available to the subject of the records and authorized college personnel.
Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.
Restrictions on Use:
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.
Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.
Walter Gerard Pontz papers, 1937-1949, MSS-009, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Administrative Information +/-
The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Processed January 2007 by Josh Ivie.
Pontz, Walter Gerard, 1918-1943
Collection materials are in English.
0.15 linear feet
Language of the Finding Aid:
Author of the Finding Aid:
Finding aid written by Josh Ivie January 2007; expanded February 2016 by Sarah J. Shaw.
EAD Creation Date:
2016 February 16 by Sarah Shaw
Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)
Related collections and photographs in Giovale Library Archives:
Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983)--Alumni and alumnae
College students--Utah--Salt Lake City
Form or Genre Terms:
Artifacts (object genre)
Salt Lake City (Utah)--History--Sources