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About Walter Richter

The Richter Reaserch Institute

The Richter Research Institute is named for a graduate of Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University, SWT) in recognition of his personal commitment and contributions to programs and activities aimed at improving the human condition. An "involved" student in the mid-1930’s, Walter Richter was chosen by his peers to serve as Star editor, then as president of the student body. In 1939, having earned both B.A. and Master's degrees, he was employed by SWT as Director of Journalism with responsibilities for publication, news service and the alumni association. During World War II, he served in the Navy, first as an enlisted man, later as an officer. His Alma Mater has honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.


  • As State Senator he served as chairman of the Governor's Committee on Aging and subsequently carried legislation giving the Committee status as a state agency, now known as the Texas Department on Aging. His voting record was progressive and people-oriented.
  • Appointed by Governor John Connally to serve as Director of the Texas Office of Economic Opportunity, Richter was appointed one year later by President Lyndon Johnson to head the Southwest regional Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) program. This 5-state effort represented a comprehensive assault on poverty and made significant progress.
  • Following his stint with the OEO, Richter lectured at The University of Texas School of Social Work on social policy, social change, and the legislative process, while also heading up the Community Council of Austin and Travis County. The Council was charged with planning and coordinating United Way and other people-serving entities, plus recruiting and guiding volunteers for member organizations.
  • Governor Preston Smith appointed Richter Director of the State Program on Drug Abuse. Richter organized a council of representatives from all state agencies with resources that could be effectively marshaled to combat drug abuse across the state. At the national level, Richter’s peers in a newly-formed Council of State Drug Abuse Program Directors chose him to be their vice chairman.
  • Richter was appointed by Governor Smith to be state chairman in Texas' participation in the 1970-71 White House Conference on Children and Youth. This position first entailed planning a Texas Conference to bring qualified Texans together to determine what action priorities Texas should espouse as part of a national strategy. This meeting, held in Austin, also provided for delegates to be selected for the Conference on Children and for the Conference on Youth, which were held in Washington, D.C. and Estes Park, Colorado, respectively.



  • Serving as Executive Director for Gonzales Warm Springs Foundation, a major physical rehabilitation center and helping ease it past a financial crisis that threatened its existence.
  • Serving as President Jimmy Carter's appointee to the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board, which ensures access by handicapped persons to all buildings either owned or leased by the Federal Government.
  • Serving as Co-Chairman for the Texas Environmental Coalition, one of the earliest volunteer organizations with the mission of creating and coordinating resources to protect the state's environment.
  • Actively supporting and serving one year as the statewide President of the United Cerebral Palsy of Texas organization.
  • Serving for a decade or more as Chairman of the Government Relations Committee of Texas Social Welfare Association, now know as United Way of Texas.
  • Over 50 years membership in Lions International with consistent support for blind citizens and the renowned Crippled Children's Camp in Kerrville, Texas.
  • Recipient of the first Walter Richter Humanitarian Award, which is given annually by the Texas State University Alumni Association for "support of human welfare and love of fellow man."


Walter Richter passed away on September 8, 2003. Mr. Richter will be remembered for his passion about enhancing public understanding of and commitment to what he deemed to be vital ingredients to improving the human condition:

  1. Greater and more effective participation in the political process by concerned, caring citizens;
  2. An all-out, continuing effort to provide and improve educational opportunities for all, emphasizing reducing school dropout rates and "salvaging" school dropouts.

Walter Richter was supported and inspired in his mission and attainments by Dorothy Jean Sample Richter, his activist wife, also a Texas State University - San Marcos (SWT) alum. An effective advocate for citizens' causes, notably in protecting the environment, she is particularly acclaimed for successfully securing passage of state legislation which protects the rights of non-smokers.