Walter Walsh, a former FBI agent and Marine who was the world’s oldest Olympian, died Tuesday, just six days shy of his 107th birthday.
USA Shooting announced Walsh’s death Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. He competed for the United States in the 1948 London Games, placing 12th in the 50m free pistol event.
But that achievement (at age 41) was a mere footnote in a memorable life. Walsh first gained fame as an FBI agent in the nascent days of the Bureau, discovering the body of noted gangster Baby Face Nelson after a shootout.
Walsh joined the Marine Corps reserve in 1938 and served during World War II. He returned to the FBI after the war but later rejoined the Corps and served for more than 20 years as a shooting instructor.
He later led the U.S. shooting delegation at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
Walsh was born May 4, 1907, in New Jersey. He most recently lived in Northern Virginia.
Last spring, as Walsh approached his 106th birthday, his son Walter Jr. released this statement to USA Shooting about his father’s life:
“Dad never attached much importance to praise or sought it. His typical comment at such times was, ‘I was just one who was at that place and time to do a job as well as I could, nothing more.’ Any celebrity he gained never changed his being the faithful Marine “Semper Fidelis” or measuring up to the FBI’s ‘Fidelity Bravery Integrity,’ as well as he could. He strove to be the Olympian, ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius,’ but was as gracious in losing as winning. Happily, his children, grands and greats share in the recognition of who Dad is, his accomplishments and importantly, his consistent moral character that established a high standard for us. As he approaches his 106th birthday, Dad wants everyone to know that he in good health, still enjoying life and doing ‘as well as he can.’”