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Photo by Cyndie Thomas
 Walter Pagels
San Diego, California

A childhood fascination with tadpole-collecting expeditions in Toledo, Ohio has guided Walter Pagels into a life-long expedition of discovery, learning and sharing of his knowledge about our vast world of aquatic life.

In 1933, at age 8, Walter began his life-long adventure in water gardening with the stocking of his first pond. He said each spring the town sporting goods store had a bucket of water lilies for sale (by color only) for 25 cents each and hyacinths for 10 cents each. His selections of red and white water lilies grew that summer and filled his first pond.

Walter is shown here in a 1942 article in The Toledo Times calculating oil fuel amounts available to consumers during rationing. He got the job based on his ability to use a slide rule. "A useless talent nowadays," quips Walter.  

United States Navy Identification 1945

Had the U.S. Navy not trained him during World War II to be an electronics technician, he says he probably would have pursued a career as a botanist.

In his primary career as an electronics engineer designing radar, he became known as the "Father of Doppler Radar" at Teledyne Ryan Electronics. He was featured in the company newsletter for his ability for having presented "The Theory and Operations of Doppler Radars" to fellow employees in a way that was easily understood.


Now retired from his engineering career, he continues to bring his communication skills to the water gardening world.

Walter was a founding member and the first president of the International Water Lily Society (IWLS) that originated in 1984. Today the organization is known as the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS).

In 1984, shortly after the formation of the Water-Lily Society (aka: IWGS) The San Diego Union ran a story about the formation of the organization and Walter's role in it.
Photo by James Skovmand

For more information and listing of the articles, click on the link below.

Go to
List of IWGS Library Articles

In a letter sent to society members in its first year, he expressed the organization's proposed purpose was to be "the exchange of valuable and timely information on all aspects of water-lilies, companion aquatic plants and the ecology of the garden pool."

He has carried that concept forward into the present with his ongoing willingness to share information. Over the years he has collected more than 300 reference books on aquatic plants and numerous publications to combine with his vast personal knowledge. He has held the position as IWGS Librarian for nearly 20 years, and has catalogued more than 350 articles by subject and author. Copies of the articles are made available for a small fee to cover copy and mailing costs.

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