Eulogy for
Richard O. Walker
Presented by D. P. Gustafson
Given at Rotary Club April 5, 2011

It is an honor to speak in behalf of Dick Walker, who departed this life at his home on 19 March,2011. He was a citizen, civil engineer, professor, Christian, husband, father, executive, athlete, scholar, and a lively spirit. I think he would like that latter description.

He was raised in my home town, Columbus, Ohio .. but more closely - Bexley, an affluent bedroom suburb on the East side - with the Columbus Country Club. My family lives on the Northwest side, Upper Arlington, home of the Scioto Country Club - Jack Nicklaus's home club. Needless to say when Dick and I realized such a common ground of competitiveness we did a bit of the old baloney, with a twinkle. This seemed to give strength to our friendship along with the somber fact of the loss of our wives to lingering grim realities.

He was quite an athlete; lettering in 4 sports in high school and at Princeton University in both football and basketball. He was a very big man for those days weighing around 300 at six foot five. He said he just loved to hit somebody in football. He was President of the Class of 1946 at Princeton and later President of the New York Princeton Club So I actually knew Dick late in both our lives, we found common family friends from our youth and enjoyed reviving those memories. He was really a great guy and with much talent.

Those who knew him will remember his well developed sense of humor and ready wit. In his decline .... and I suppose mine .... we were members of the local Downtown Gridiron Club enjoying the camaraderie and cuisine at the Trails, Dick was a dessert fan, take two, they're small I'd chide. But if I'd switch to a serious topic his expression changed promptly and he became the executive from the New York company with a crisp, meaningful response. Oh, the whimsical Dick vanished then and there. He seemed to feel achievement in his straight forward remarks of having designed Macy's in New York and 45 or so other Macy's stores about the USA.

He spent some time in France designing commercial buildings in Paris and other cities I forget. A lesser amount of his work was done in England which he mentioned only briefly. In response to inquiry of his move to Purdue he said that an opportunity arose here and that he liked the idea of a change; making possible dissemination of some of what he had learned during the 30 or so years in the practice of his craft. Coincidentally we both retired in 1988. He at 65, and I was 68. Dick didn't speak to me of his military experience during WW II nor of his illnesses. There were areas of his life which he avoided gracefully and I did not mind.

In recent months, living in a duplex of Trace 12 in Camelback, which he designed, he was more or less stuck in his recliner chair reading the NY Times, Wall St. Journal,and the Washington Post. Jim Carney and I visited him after he could not enjoy the Old Geezers table here ... strange as that may seem...He had gradually lost interest in life after Marjorie died...

There is much to be said about his character and he was a character! seriously, and briefly, he was worldly wise, a sophisticate ... very able and so intelligent. His lighthearted demeanor was a facade. I'd like To believe he will be remembered by students and colleagues alike as that kindly old professor Walker. Well done, and farewell, Dick!