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Walter Bethel

02/28/1937 - 06/22/2024


Obituary For Walter Bethel

Born on February 28, 1937, Walter Bethel was the son of Thomas Bethel and Alveria Bethel nee Barlett. When Walter was three, Mr. Bethel sailed off, and he did not see his father again until 1967 when he was thirty. Grandma was an illiterate Black woman with two small sons in the 1940s. My cousin Daniel told me that Grandma worked in a laundry, folding clothes. We can only imagine what life was like for my dad and his brother, Thomas.

Dad did not speak much about his childhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Dad went through the New York public school system. In 1956, Walter `graduated from the High School of Fashion Industries, where he learned tailoring.

Grandma raised her sons to be Catholic. When he was 12, Walter accepted Jesus at what he called a “little Jewish Mission. “ Dad joined Eastern Baptist Church and eventually became a lay leader in for the teen group. It was there that he met Alvina Mae Fleming, whom he married on September 15, 1962.

Their pastor knew the officer at the Bedford Temple Salvation Army in Brooklyn, NY and eventually, they began teaching Sunday School there in the afternoon. They came to the attention of the Divisional Youth Secretary who offered them a position as Corps helpers at the Stapleton Staten Island Corps where they became soldiers. In the midst of this, in 1966, their first child, Dorcas Jeanine Bethel, was born.

They entered the School for Officer Training in September 1968 in the Undaunted Session when the school was in the Bronx. In June 1970, Lts. Walter and Alvina Mae were assigned to an outpost in Arlington Heights, PA. At that time, their first son, Damon Walter Bethel was born in December 1970

In 1972 they moved to Homewood-Brushton Corps in Pittsburgh where their third child, David Michael Bethel was born. In 1974 their fourth child, Daniel Allen Bethel was born. The couple became Captains in Homewood-Brushton and spent eight years there before moving to the Pittsburgh Westside Salvation Army where they served for two years.

In 1981 Walter and Alvina Mae were transferred to the Bushwick Corps in Brooklyn, NY. In 1984 they moved to the Philadelphia Germantown Avenue Corps. In 1990 Majors Bethel moved to the Miles Park Corps in Cleveland OH, the oldest Black Corps in the United States.

Majors Walter and Alvina Mae were moved to Boston South End and later to Boston Harbor Light from where they retired 22 years ago, moving to Dover. DE. For the first 12 years of their retirement, Walter and Alvina Mae volunteered once a week at the Wilmington, DE preschool and they also taught a Bible Class for senior citizens. Walter taught a Sunday School class, volunteered at the feeding program, and visited hospitals and nursing Homes for the League of Mercy.

On Saturday, June 22, 20234 Walter Bethel was Promoted to Glory. He was predeceased by his son Damon Walter Bethel and his wife Alvina Mae who was promoted last August. He leaves his daughter Dorcas Bethel, son, David Bethel and daughter-in-law Cindy, son Daniel Allen Bethel and daughter-in-law Sarah Bethel, daughter-in-law Allison Bethel, Damon Bethel’s wife, sister-in-law Reverend Marietta Alcide, sister-in-law Marsha Fleming, sister-in-law Dominique Riddick and brother-in-law Steven Riddick, eleven grandchildren: Naomi, Donovan, Jordan Santiago, Maya, Aaron, Isaiah, Kimberly, Kayla, Wiliam, Sophia, and Damon Jr. and a host of nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and 4 great-grandchildren by marriage.


6 Jul


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Bennie Smith Funeral Home of Delaware (Dover) 717 W Division Street Dover, DE 19904 Get Directions »
6 Jul

Funeral Service

11:00 AM

Bennie Smith Funeral Home of Delaware (Dover) 717 W Division Street Dover, DE 19904 Get Directions »
8 Jul


11:00 AM

Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery (Millsboro DE) 26669 Patriots Way Millsboro, DE 19966 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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Popular Question

Remember all we enjoyed with them while they were alive. If you have recently lost someone you love, we hope that you will accept our condolences.

Why is having a funeral ceremony important?

Throughout human history, and around the globe, people have gathered together to acknowledge the death of a member of the community. No matter who the deceased was, a funeral ceremony is the one (and sometimes the only) opportunity for everyone to come together to acknowledge their death, recognize the community's shared loss and share the burden of grief.

What is the average cost of a funeral service?

The National Funeral Directors Association states the national median cost of a funeral details the average costs of a funeral in 2012: $7,045 (however, if a burial vault is required by the cemetery–and it usually is–the median cost can rise as high as $8,343). These statistics aside, the cost of a funeral service is wholly dependent on the specific services and products selected by the family member(s) responsible for making funeral arrangements. Your funeral director will thoroughly explain all options, ask the important questions about your family's budget restrictions; and otherwise do everything he or she can to provide you with a funeral, memorial service or celebration-of-life that meets your emotional and social needs, all the while staying in line with your financial expectations

How does the cost for a funeral ceremony compare to the cost of a memorial service or celebration-of-life?

Attempting to compare the costs of the three is rather like trying to compare oranges, mangoes and apples; it can't be done. Perhaps it's easier to see funerals, memorial services and celebrations-of-life as three points on a spectrum–a range, if you like–of ceremonial formats. At one end is the funeral; at the other, the celebration-of-life, and in the middle, the memorial service. The funeral is most commonly the most expensive of the three; which is especially easy to see when you consider the cost of the casket is a significant expense. The cost of any of the three is totally dependent on the choices you make during the arrangement conference.

Who should be invited to a funeral?

It's a lot like asking 'who should be invited to a wedding': people who would want to be there. A person's role at a funeral is two-fold: one, they are there to demonstrate support for the bereaved family. Second, funeral guests are there to tend to their own sorrow; to begin to come to terms, in the safety of a shared collective experience, with the death of someone they held dear. While it's not common to send out invitations to a funeral (generally, the service details are published in the newspaper or online, and those who wish to attend, do); it does make a certain amount of sense to reach out to certain individuals by phone, email, or social media to ensure they are aware of the service date/time (and express your desire for their presence). When preparing the guest list for a funeral service, you should both listen to your heart and use common sense. You know the people that mattered most to your loved one, as well as those who mattered least. Whatever you do, don't invite more people than the venue can comfortably handle.

Is it necessary to have flowers at the ceremony?

Flowers create a background of warmth and beauty which adds to the dignity and consolation of the funeral service. "Necessary" may not be the right word; but there's no doubt flowers at a funeral or other end-of-life ceremony serve many valuable purposes including a means of a visual expression of sympathy, love and respect or a means of lending support.

What's involved in preparing the body for viewing at a visitation or funeral?

The preparation of the deceased can involve a number of different tasks performed by trained and licensed embalmer and restorative artists. Without going into too much detail; the body is temporarily preserved by embalming, refrigeration, or a combination of the two. It is washed, dressed and otherwise groomed; then placed in the chosen casket for viewing. Should you wish to know more about the process, contact us. There are also many excellent articles online describing the process in greater detail.

If it makes people uncomfortable, why is it necessary to view the body in the casket?

Human beings are interesting creatures: sometimes we need to see in order to truly believe. It's a way of confirming the fact that, indeed, this individual is dead; but it's also an opportunity to say your "good-byes". You may find it a cathartic time where you can quietly share a long-held secret, let go of any anger or resentment, and otherwise come to terms with their death.

How can I best prepare my children to attend a funeral?

When asked this question, we like to tell people it's best done with honesty and awareness. Let them know basically what they can expect. Advise them there will be people there who will be sad and may cry openly; tell them there will be time for some people to stand up and talk about how much they loved the person (but they won't be required to do so). Let them ask all the questions they need to ask, reassure them you'll be right next to them throughout the experience. Never force them to go to a funeral, and always give them the opportunity to change their mind about attending.

What is a celebrant?

The Celebrant Foundation and Institute define celebrants as "trained professionals who believe in the power and effectiveness of ceremony and ritual to serve basic needs of society and the individual. The Celebrant's mission is to help the client create a ceremony that reflects his or her beliefs, philosophy of life, and personality." A life-cycle celebrant is especially valuable when a family has no religious affiliations or ties to a clergy person or minister who can officiate the funeral service, but involving a celebrant in the funeral planning process has been found to enhance the funeral experience for all concerned. "The Celebrant comes to the table with no agenda," shares the Institute's website, "and no preconceived notion of what the ceremony should or must look like. Instead, through careful interviewing, the Celebrant elicits what is meaningful for each client." If you think hiring a celebrant is the right for your family's situation, contact us for more details.

How long is a funeral service?

Simply put, "it depends on the service". Just as no two movies or novels are the same length or cover the same emotional ground; no two end-of-life ceremonies are the same.

Must I wear black to the funeral ceremony?

Black used to be the only color to wear to a funeral; but not anymore. Today things are less formal than they once were, and it's not totally uncommon for families to ask prospective guests to altogether avoid wearing black clothing. Should you have additional questions about funeral attire or etiquette, please contact us.

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