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Producing Excellence

The Walter Family

Mountain Home, AR

Homeowners

Relationship with Farm Credit: Mortgage and farm financing

Size of Operation: 193 acres

In Business Since: 2007

Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit of Western Arkansas

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2007

Rural America is filled with inspiring people and inspiring stories, none more so than Hal and Gail Walter, first generation farmers who moved from New Jersey and started a small farm in large part to create a life better suited to their exceptional son, Raymond.

One of the Walter’s three children, Ray has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disease with physical symptoms that now require him to use a wheelchair. Ray is far more than his disease, though: he is an extraordinary young man with an incredible IQ. He graduated from high school at age 14, and in 2013, at the age of only 18, expects to earn a triple degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in Mathematics, Physics and Economics. How he is able to attend university is a story of immense family commitment.

Hal and Gail recognized Raymond’s special gifts at an early age. “When I began discussing algebra with a six-year-old, I realized Raymond was pretty special,” Hal says. As they considered Raymond’s needs, they felt there had to be a better place to raise their children and began searching for another place to live. Hal was also interested in farming, which brought them to Arkansas six years ago. Finding a wheelchair accessible home on a farm limited their options, but working with Farm Credit, they were able to purchase a suitable home sitting on 163 acres.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be possible to buy a farm this size,” says Hal. “This property fit our needs, so Farm Credit made it work for us.” The farm, which is also supported with Farm Credit financing, has since grown to 193 acres, with 25 head of cattle (cow/calf pairs) and 20 pigs that they sell through word-of-mouth.

To enable Ray to attend college, Hal drives him three hours to Fayetteville every Monday morning during the school year and lives in the dorm with him four nights a week, providing personal-care assistance around the clock. Meanwhile, Gail manages the farm responsibilities when Hal’s away. The Walter’s two other children, Emily and Ron, both attend the University of Central Arkansas and come home during their breaks to help on the farm.

Every member of the Walter family is committed to each other, of course, but most of all to helping their most exceptional family member, Ray, achieve his dreams. This support and his own ambition, knowledge and drive will certainly ensure his success in graduate school and future career.

Download a PDF version of this story here.