Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in an eight-part series featuring the inaugural inductees in the Niceville Valparaiso Civic Hall of Fame. The series is sponsored by our Community Partner, Twin Cities Hospital. The 2017 inductees will be announced at the Civic Hall of Fame Luncheon on July 19.
Walter “Walt” Ruckel, Jr., was born in 1927 in Pensacola. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force as an airplane mechanic from 1945-47. As an avid supporter of local aviation, he helped to create Ruckel Airport and was an accomplished pilot and flight instructor.
Ruckel started as a bookkeeper and teller at his grandfather’s bank, Valparaiso State Bank, and became President in 1951 upon his father’s death. He served as Chairman of the Board until 2004. Ruckel was a Charter member of the Rocky Bayou Country Club and instrumental in forming the club. As Chairman of the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation and Chairman of the fund drive, they were able to raise over a million dollars to build the current museum.
He was a Charter Member of the Niceville Valparaiso Rotary Club which formed in 1948 and served as their president. Ruckel was elected “Man of the Year” in 1957 and 1970. Ruckel was also instrumental in the development and continuing success of Rocky Bayou Christian School.
He worked to develop local family real estate into homes and businesses throughout the area through his family business, Ruckel Properties, formed in 1955.
Ruckel served as President of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber from 1957 – 1959 and served several terms on the Board of Directors. Later he would become one of the first two Life Directors of the Chamber.
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