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Binder, Walter J. (1898-1959) | Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

Name: Binder, Walter J. (1898-1959)

Historical Note:

Walter J. Binder was born in Covington, KY in 1898 to Frank and Matilda Binder. He was raised in Newport, KY (across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, OH) in a 2nd generation German family. His father, Frank, was a typesetter for the Cincinnati Enquirer for more than 50 years. Walter was the 2nd of three children, the 1910 Federal census shows him, age 12, living with his parents and a younger sister, Alice, age 4. Walter graduated from Newport High School in 1915 and attended the University of Wisconsin until he joined the U.S. Army in 1917. While at college, he worked three jobs to support himself.

After joining the Army, Walter J. Binder was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Service. He served with the 487th Aero Squadron, Air Service of the Army (ASA), to May 23rd 1919. He trained at Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX, before moving with the squadron to Romorantin, France in early 1918. He was promoted to 1st Sgt. on March 1, 1918. He was the official staff photographer but wrote to his father (in a letter that was partially printed in the newspaper) that "I just finished pitching a load of hay. Can you imagine me, a perfectly citified chap, wielding a pitchfork along with the alfalfa farmers from Kansas and Missouri? Of course, they do the same work with far less effort but I kept up and did my bit." He was honorably discharged at Camp Sherman, OH, on May 23, 1919.

When Walter returned to Newport, KY, in 1919, he started a small business in a converted carriage house manufacturing envelopes. He produced the envelopes during the day and delivered them in the evening via streetcar. In 1924 he married Helen Kyle and moved to Ft. Thomas, KY. They had two daughters, Mary Jean and Joyce. Mary Jean Giltner (nee Binder) is the donor of this collection. Between 1919 and 1941, he built his small business into a large company known as the Specialty Envelope Co. This company eventually merged with Western Paper Goods in the early 1940s. Walter served as President of Western paper Goods until his sudden death in 1959.

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