History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - People - Bios

Stephen Andre Walther


July 22, 1944
Sept. 14, 1977
Primary Involvements:

Community Activist





Stephen Andre Walther graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point in 1971, and attended Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse before moving to Milwaukee. Walther became one of the early members of Gay Peoples Union, and was very active in that organization.

Walther is best known nationally and internationally as founder and publisher of Astronomy magazine, which even at the time of his death, was described as "the world's most beautiful astronomy magazine". That magazines continues to be the preeminent magazine for fans of astronomy 30 years later.

Stephen Walther passed away on September 14, 1977, of a brain tumor. Steve was survived by two brothers: John Walther (who lived in Germany at the time), and David Walther (a Milwaukee attorney). He was also survived by his close friend and companion, Jerome Johnson. After funeral services in Milwaukee, Steve was buried in Stevens Point.

The following is an excerpt from an article about the early history of Astronomy magazine on the Astronomy.com website, written by Dave Eicher, editor of Astronomy Magazine early in the 21st century:

    "Little did Steve Walther know that his brainchild would turn into the greatest magazine about astronomy in the world. At 29, the ambitious graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point launched a periodical about his first love, the stars. The first issue, August 1973, held 48 pages and five feature articles, plus information about what to see in the night sky that month. Walther had grown up in the Milwaukee area and taken jobs in public relations after college, always at least dabbling in his beloved pursuit of astronomy. He worked part time as a planetarium lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and developed a keen interest in photographing constellations. His gift to the world would live on, but, sadly, he would not. With the magazine catching on rapidly, Walther threw a party for contributing authors, photographers, and sponsors in the summer of 1976. Beside a pool, surrounded by drinks and hors d'oeuvres, talking his best game with his closest friends, Steve Walther collapsed, insensible. He died the following year, the victim of a brain tumor."


Obituary in GPU News, October 1977

Credits: information on gay community involvement from GPU News;
additional information from Astronomy.com website
Last updated: June-2007.