Born and raised in Germany and educated at the University in Munich, Walter availed himself of the opportunity, while a student, to travel extensively in Europe. He visited most of the Balkan, Scandinavian, and Mediterranean countries. He left Europe in 1925 for two years in South America before coming to California, where he remained only five months. He completed his global circuit by taking off for Hawaii, Japan, China, India, Manila, then back to Germany. Of all the places he visited, California was his favorite, and he returned to San Francisco in 1929. He worked for an Export House until the war years, at which time he operated a Ski Lodge in the winter and a resort on the Russian River in the Summer. He joined the firm of Dean Witter (Stocks and Bonds) and was with them for many years.
Walter's folk dancing interest did not begin in Europe. He started folk dancing while at the Ski Lodge in California, and when he returned to San Francisco in 1942, the Folk Dance Federation of California was just being formed and he was able to attend the first Festival. Later he joined the Berkeley Folk Dancers, and the same year became a member of Changs performing group. He started teaching in 1946, and introduced many of United States folk dancers favorite dances. Walter worked extensively with "Let's Dance" magazine, was Vice President and later President of the Federation for two years. He worked with several Federation committees, including the Teachers' Institutes, North-South Relations, and the Folk Dance Camp at Stockton, which he organized with Lawton Harris.
Walter Grothe was the fifth president of the Folk Dance Federation of California for two years. He assisted with the formation of the Folk Dance Federation of California, South, when Morry Gelman was moving from Los Angeles to Oxnard, where there was no folk dancing. With Walter's help, Morry approached the Oxnard city government to stage a folk dance festival in City Park and to approve $500 for putting it on. Walter chartered an Army parachute plane and ferried enough performers to form three performing groups to Oxnard for the festival. The following week, Oxnard had a flourishing folk dance group!
In 1955, Walter wed Miriam Kennett, and the couple were honored at an informal dinner party given by the Millbrae Highlanders, of which Walter was the director.
Walter Grothe died of natural causes on January 25, 1996, at the age of 94.
Dances Walter taught include Agattanz, Bachelor's Waltz, Bandltanz, Barynya, Bauerntanz, Black Forest Mazurka, Blezdingele, Bohemian Polka, Böndner Cheerab, Cevve (Mascham), Changier Quadrille, Cow Row Waltz, Csárdás Egyvelek, Csárdás Sose Halunk Meg, Daldans, Das Bauernmoidl, Das Hiatamadl, Das Spinnradl, Der Eiswalzer, Der Ennstaler Polka, Der Haxenschmeisser, Der Lauterbacher, Der Mainzer Polka (Bayrisch Polka), Der Neubayrische, Der Neudeutsche, Der Pfeifer, Der Watschenplattler, Deutscher mit Plattl, Deutscher Waltzer, Doudlebská Polka, Dreher, Dreisteyrer, Dreisteyrer mit Plattl, Dutch Foursome, Ecossaise, Einfacher Dreher, Ennstaler Steirischer, Feistritzer Ländler, Finnish Polka, Foeftehalftouriger mit Waltzer, Française, Gimbet Gombot, Grosser Wirbel, Halunk Meg Csárdás, Heilsberger Dreieck, Jäegermarsh (Jaegermarsch), Jaunimēlis, Kaerntner Laendler, Kaffeemöhlenpolka (Tanz um den Krengel), Kaiserländler, Kamarinskaya, Katzenleiter (Boarischer), Kolomeyka, Krebspolka, Kreuzpolka, Kruesel Konter, Kuckucks Polka, Kuhlaenler Dreher, La Storta da Crusch, Linzer Polka, Lorenz, Lucky Seven, Maike, Mainzer Polka, Man In the Hay, Massiner, Mecklenburg Mazurka, Mikita, Muehlrad, Nues Muehlrad, Offener Walzer, Oige ja Vasemba, Old Tyrolean Schuhplattler, Osetenian Lezginka, Oslo Waltz, Pantlikas Kalapom, Päschada Zwoaschritt, Polka zu Dritt, Polyanka, Praxplattler, Raksi Jaak, Ratte-Bolje-Zocher, Rheinländer, Rheinländer Mixer, Sadala Polka, Salzburger Dreher, Schlupper, Seven Steps, Siebenschritt, Sønderhoning, Sose Halunk Meg and Csárdás, Steiregger, Stemmtanz, Strohschneider, Studentenpolka, Sukačko, Ţarina de la Abrud, Trampelpolka, Treffnertanz, Triolett, Vandra Polka, Viru Waltz, Waldjaeger, Woaf (Weifentanz), Zillertaller Ländler, and Zwiefacher (several of 'em!).