November 11, 1926 - April 19, 2024
Age 97

“Walt” Pettit passed “from this world to the next” of natural causes with quiet dignity on April 19, 2024. Walt was born in Springfield, Missouri on November 11, 1926, to Walter, Sr. and Vena Belle Pettit. He was the youngest of three children. He grew up idolizing his sister Ruth and his brother Frank who were 18 and 16 years older than Walt respectively.
Walt graduated from Greenwood High School in 1944 then entered the Army serving in active duty during World War II and later as an Officer in the Army Jag Corp during the Korean War. Walt was a proud veteran who was honored to serve his country for over 16 years.
In 1949, Walt graduated from Drury University with degrees in Political Science and Economics. In 1953, he graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Law Degree.
While at Drury Walt met his first love, Carol Roberts. In 1950, they were married and enjoyed 44 happy and fulfilling years together until Carol lost her long battle with breast cancer in 1995.  
Walt’s survivors include his three children: Shelley Hume (Jeff Van Haveren) of Nixa, Walter S. Pettit, III “Skip” (Betsy) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Scott Roberts Pettit (Theresa) of Aurora; eight grandchildren: JP Stockton, Jack Hume, Sean Hume, Lauren Tarbutton, Sam Pettit, Ben Pettit, James Pettit and  Allison Patton; and 13 great-grandchildren: Kylie, Liam, Samara, Mattea, Anna, Luca, Aiden, Lexi, Brooks, August, Isla, Everly and Miles. He cherished his special bond with his nieces and nephews, especially Carroll Caruthers (Richard), Bob Roper (Ellen), Martha Roper (Peter Scales) and David Sigmon (Mary Alice)., all of whom, with their spouses and partners, survive and will miss him.  
In 2003 Walt married Ann Medcalf White. They enjoyed 16 years of marriage before Ann died of breast cancer in 2019. Walt is also survived by stepson, David White of Republic.
In 1953, Walt started his law practice with his father-in-law, Earl Roberts in Steeleville, Missouri. In the beginning, he practiced some criminal defense work that he did not enjoy. He lost one of his first trials where his client claimed to be innocent of stealing hogs. Walt was crushed when the guilty verdict was read by the jury foreman. For over a year Walt thought he failed an innocent man, until he received a gift (a leather wallet) from his client who was serving time in prison and a note that read, “Dear Walt, I wished I hadn’t stole them hogs.”
In the mid 1950’s, Walt and Carol then moved to Springfield where Walt worked as an associate with the Neale and Newman Law Firm. Walt said the work was rewarding but the hours were hard as Mr. Neale wanted him to be at the office early and Mr. Newman wanted him to stay late.
In 1958, Walt and Carol moved to Aurora where he worked with talented lawyers, J. Hal Moore, Larry Meyer, Bob Keeter, Jack Steinle, and Joe Woodcock.
Walt worked as a general law practitioner, but concentrated his time on estate planning, probate, corporate and real estate law. He served thousands of clients over the 67 years of his legal career. He partnered with his son, Scott for over 35 years. In 2013, Walt’s grandson James joined the practice. Walt always considered the practice of law as a labor of love. He was the model of honesty and integrity. He always treated his clients, the court staff, judges, and opposing counsel with the utmost respect and civility. He carried an active Missouri Bar card and business cards in his wallet to the day he died. Walt was an advocate to the end.
Walt has also been involved with several civic and service organizations. He was a board member and officer for the following clubs: Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions, Aurora Airport Board (where he and Dr. A.J. McCallum obtained the Hill Burton Grant to improve and expand the airport in the 1960’s), Aurora Little League (President), Aurora School Board (Chairman), Aurora Hospital Board, Aurora Industrial Development Board, a founding member of the Aurora Area Community Foundation, Union National Bank, Boatman’s Bank Board of Directors, Drury University Board of Trustees (serving as a member of the Finance Budget and Audit Committee), and served many years as a Elder, Deacon and Sunday School teacher at the First Presbyterian Church in Aurora. Walt was a member of Sigma Nu (Drury) and Phi Delta Phi (Mizzou).
Walt joined the Masons through the Canopy Lodge in Aurora in 1965 and later became a very active Shriner. He served as Potentate of Abou Ben Adhem in Springfield in 1974. He was the first “Pote” to reside outside of Greene County. He was recognized by the Scottish Rite Masonic organization in 1981 as a 33rd-degree Scottish Rite Mason.  Walt was employed in 1980 by the International Shrine as Chairman of its Jurisprudence and Laws Committee. In this position he was lead counsel for all 23 Shriner’s Hospitals and Burn Institutes across the United States, Canada, and Mexico until in 2001. He delighted in helping children needing orthopedic treatment all over the world at no charge to the patient or family.
Walt has been honored with many awards over the years. He was named the Aurora Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year” in 1960, just two years after arriving in town. Since then, he has also received the Community Service Award, the Lloyd R. Ellis Award. In 2012, Walt was recognized with the prestigious “Missourian” Award for his outstanding contributions in business, service, and the arts. In 2023, Walt was elected to the Aurora Houn Dawg Hall of Fame.
Walt was an active golfer, fanatical supporter of the Aurora Houn Dawgs, the Drury Panthers, St. Louis Cardinals, Springfield Cardinals, and Kansas City Chiefs. He loved the time he spent with family and friends at Table Rock Lake.
A family reception/visitation will be held from 2:00-3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2024, with a memorial service following at 3:00 p.m. at Crafton-Cantrell Funeral Home of Aurora.  Private interment will be in Maple Park Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri, with full military honors. Walt’s son Skip Pettit will deliver the message at the memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in memory of Walt & Carol to the following: Shriner’s Hospitals, 210 St. Louis St., Springfield, MO  65804, or the Carol Pettit Breast Fund, c/o Community Foundation of the Ozarks, 425 E. Trafficway, Springfield MO 65806.
Arrangements were under the care of Crafton-Cantrell Funeral Home in Aurora. Online condolences can be shared at


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Please Login for Premium Content