Walter Neel Robertson

Walter Neel Robertson

Walter Neel Robertson (known as Neel)-husband, father, brother, engineer, traveler, swimmer, Rotarian-died peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Madison, Wis., at the age of 92.

Neel was born in Royal Oak, Mich., in 1930 to Gladys and Adelbert Robertson, one of four brothers. He attended the University of Michigan graduating with a degree in metallurgy and later served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. In 1956, he married Nancy Bergdahl, and together they raised their family. They lived in Chicago, Brooklyn, N.Y., then Hershey Pa., where they stayed for over 50 years. They moved to Madison, Wis., in 2015.

Neel worked as a combustion engineer-designing, selling, and installing industrial furnaces worldwide. (He had a precise engineering mind coupled with an inquiring and engaging personality.) He travelled for work extensively, sometimes months at a time-all over Europe, to Japan, Africa, Australia, and more-where he made life-long friends around the globe.

He was a lover of making things. He made models, pottery, a productive vegetable garden, and wine. He built a treehouse large enough to host parties high in the branches of an old apple tree in their back yard.

After retiring from engineering, Neel became active in the Rotary Club where he chaired the Hershey Rotary international exchange committee for 17 years, bringing youth from around the world to stay with host families in the United States. He also served as interim Scoutmaster for the local Boy Scouts Troop 65.

He was comfortable in, on, and around water, whether it was a pool, a lake, or the ocean. He taught swimming for the Salvation Army camp during summers in high school and during college worked as a lifeguard at Pine Lake in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., (where he met his wife Nancy). He was a member of both the University of Michigan and the U.S. Army swim teams. He liked fishing trips with friends, body surfing in the ocean in Bridgehampton, and boating with his children in Noyack Bay on Long Island. He also loved swimming at Pawleys Island S.C. and in the warm Caribbean waters of St. Martin. He was happiest floating on his back, eyes closed, relaxed and bobbing out beyond the breakers.

Neel is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sons, Ted (Victoria), Charles (Anne Marie), and Peter (Andrea); and his five grandchildren, James, Julia, Andrew, Megan, and Henry.

No services will be held. Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East

Funeral & Cremation Care

5203 Monona Drive

(608) 221-5420