Saying "Thank You" For A Life Together

It was an instant love connection for Walter Lemon.

A US Marine with only thirty days until he shipped out for Vietnam, Walt was mingling at a party one night in December 1968 when he spied a shy brunette named Theresa, his sister’s suite mate at Arizona State University’s Manzanita Hall.

He mustered the courage to ask her out. She “surprised the hell out of him” by accepting.

For the next year, Walt and Terri’s lives were marked by the interruption and uncertainty that accompanies military service. They dated on and off. They wrote letters back and forth.

Returning home, Walt enrolled at Arizona State University, where Terri was studying nursing and where he wrestled with his pre-war career choice, journalism. His father told him about ASU’s construction engineering program, where a retired admiral in charge of construction in Vietnam served as counselor. In fact, retired military dominated the program’s teaching roster.

Like his bond with Terri, it was a perfect match.

asu walt terri lemon

By the time Walt and Terri married in 1974, their ASU experience had steered them both to satisfying careers, Terri to pediatric orthopedics at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, Walt to construction management.

So when Terri passed away from cancer after forty-one years of marriage, Walt honored her memory by establishing the Theresa Jean Lemon Memorial Scholarship at ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation—an institution that provided purpose and direction in their early years together.

“She was really proud she was a graduate of ASU CONHI, and of what ASU gave her,” Walt said. “I wanted the university to know how much the college meant to her and that was the best way I could think of doing it.”

The scholarship is a way for Walt to express his appreciation too.

“There is no doubt in my mind that construction degree opened up doors that even today are hard for me to imagine,” Walt said. “It taught me how to think and solve problems. Throughout my entire career, the companies I worked for would give me challenges. They wouldn’t tell me how to solve them, it was up to me, and my education at ASU was fundamental in my thought process in how to solve them.”

After her death, Walt’s appreciation for Terri’s profession deepened. Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he relied on registered nurses who cared for him with empathy and understanding.

Walt died in April, one year after his beloved Terri.

Editor’s note: Walt and Terri are survived by two sons, Alex and Anthony. To learn more about their story, please contact Eric Spicer at CONHI, eric.spicer@adu.edu