Deacon Walter Beyer used deft, sacred brushstrokes

Deacon Walter Beyer, who spent a lifetime masterfully painting church interiors, died Feb. 17 at the age of 98.
A native of Savannah, Georgia, Deacon Beyer grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Alcee Fortier High School.

Deacon Beyer owned and operated Walter L. Beyer Ecclesiastical Artisans for nearly 70 years, specializing in church decoration, and was active in national, regional and local trade associations.

Deacon Beyer carried on a family tradition of decorative painting that he could trace back to his grandfather in Germany in the 19th century. He climbed scaffolding to the highest reaches of many of the city’s historic churches.

Some of his prized work included St. Louis Cathedral, St. John the Baptist, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Holy Name of Mary, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Henry, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Agnes in Jefferson. He also painted several New Orleans synagogues, including Temple Sinai.

He started his painting craft as a teenager in 1934 and established his own painting contracting business in 1946 after returning from WWII, where he had served on U.S. Navy submarines.

Deacon Beyer once joked that in the Navy he was advised, “If it doesn’t move, paint it.”

For nearly 40 years, he ministered at Mater Dolorosa Church in New Orleans. He was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1983.

Deacon Beyer was the son of the late George Louis and Gertrude Coby Beyer; husband of the late Ina King Beyer; brother of the late George E. Beyer; father of Ina Pittman, Mark Beyer (Ellen), Sylvia Beyer and the late Judith Beyer. He had four grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

His funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 22 at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Metairie. Interment was private.  

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