Walter Hellendall, 97, a German-language interpreter for the Army during the last months of World War II, died of heart failure June 13 at his home in Wyncote.

Mr. Hellendall was born in the North Rhine-Westphalian town of Moenchengladbach, his son Kenneth said, but "he left because he was Jewish and in Germany."

"His mother and two sisters escaped with him. His father did not. His whereabouts were never known."

Mr. Hellendall immigrated to the States in 1938 and joined the Army infantry in 1941, before war was declared.

After taking part in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, he became an interpreter when the Army rolled into his hometown in early 1945.

"He started by interpreting some people who knew his family," his wife, Gretel, said. Because his language skills were needed, he was not sent home until several months after the European war ended.

Perhaps because he was at the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, his wife said, Mr. Hellendall "did not speak at all" about most of his wartime experiences.

Not even, she said, about how he won a Bronze Star.

In 1939, Mr. Hellendall had begun working as an independent distributor for Pepperidge Farm, founded in 1937 in Fairfield, Conn.

When he returned to civilian life, Mr. Hellendall and his wife established Hellendall Distributors Inc., supplying Pepperidge Farm products to 70 subcontractors in the tristate region from an office in Abington.

The Hellendalls retired in 1986.

At age 65 and while still running his firm, Mr. Hellendall graduated from what is now Arcadia University with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1977.

In May 2007, Arcadia awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Mr. Hellendall was a volunteer at Abington Memorial Hospital and taught adult education classes, his son said, "at local synagogues, churches, Temple [University's] Ambler campus" from the late 1980s until 2002.

Besides his son Kenneth and his wife of 57 years, Mr. Hellendall is survived by a son, Ronald, and four grandchildren.

A memorial is planned for 3 p.m. July 10 at the Castle on the campus of Arcadia University.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.