ATLANTA — The iconic Walter’s Clothing store has been an Atlanta landmark since 1952. Walter Strauss helped pioneer the Atlanta sneaker culture when he bought the property and turned it into a thriving business that would run strong to this day.
That rich history and welcoming environment has attracted African-American customers and his labor of love became immortalized in hip-hop songs by Outkast, Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane and so many others.
But the store recently went through a big change. Walter’s lost a piece of it’s history.
The sign outside of the store’s front door reads “Walters – A Name to Remember.”
Now that name is being remembered by those who knew him.
Walter Strauss died last year at the age of 94. And just last week, his wife Estelle passed away.
The longtime couple were loved by so many generations of Atlantans who took to social media to remember the soulmates.
Patrick Morrison started working for the Strauss’ when he was in high school and never left.
“Walter and Estelle are the G.O.A.T.s of life,” he said.
The popular acronym stands for ‘The Greatest Of All Time.’
Morrison is considered the store’s historian with valuable information about the history behind the landmark.
He said these doors first opened for business in the 50’s during segregation. Morrison said it became a space of refuge.
People from all backgrounds walked through this front door during Jim Crow South and were treated with respect.
“[Walter] didn’t discriminate against people. He made them feel welcomed. He made them feel home,” he said.
Before the store opened, Walter came to Atlanta seeking the same kind of refuge and freedom after escaping Nazi Germany.
Morrison goes on to say the Strauss’ were relatable and real. They connected with just about anyone.
“The African-American community has so much respect for Walter and Estelle,” he said.
Walter and Estelle are finally reunited. She spent a year without him after his death, struggling to move on without her soulmate by her side.
“Her heart was broken. There was no way to heal it. That was like my mother. She did everything for everybody,” he recalled.
For more than 60 years, the store remained the same while the world around it changed.
It’s a landmark that represents the ATL Culture.
Walter is a name to remember. And Estelle is a name that’s a great part of that legacy.
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