Elva Fitzpatrick Walters (June 11, 1912 – December 3, 2005) was an inspiring and charismatic teacher with a passion for music. By the time she retired at 83, Elva had taught for 65 years, including 17 years at Prince of Wales Secondary School where she was known as “Mrs. Fitz.”
Elva was committed to making music accessible for all students. She was fond of telling the story about a boy who grudgingly joined the choir as instructed by the school counsellor.
Elva asked the boy, “Do you like to sing?”
He answered with an emphatic “No!”
“Well,” said Elva, “we’re practising some music by Edvard Grieg. You just have a seat for now.” A few months later, that boy sang a lead role in the operetta, Song of Norway.
Following retirement, Elva took her love of music to a new generation of students: the Senior Centre at the Brock House. She established a music program, which included music appreciation, several choral ensembles, an orchestra, a string ensemble and two bell ringing groups.
It was there that she met Harold Walters (August 26, 1912 – January 31, 2009) in 1979. Harold, newly retired form a long career with the CPR, had recently moved from Montreal to Vancouver. He was a fine tenor and Elva was delighted with this new addition to the men’s section. They joked that Elva would do anything to keep a good tenor, even marry him! Harold and Elva, then 69, married and spent the next 24 years together.
Elva and Harold expressed their commitment to music education by establishing the Kids Sing Chorus, a community choir for underprivileged children. They also created the Fitzpatrick Walters Scholarship in Music at UBC. Through annual donations and an estate gift to endow the scholarship the couple has helped more than 27 students to pursue careers in music education.
Elva and Harold believed that music positively influences the social and cultural development of young people. They would be pleased to know that their musical legacy lives on.
The Fitzpatrick Walters Scholarship in Music is available to students majoring in elementary or secondary music education.