Dale L. Walker

August 3, 1935December 8, 2015
Obituary of Dale L. Walker


Martin Funeral Home

Dale L. Walker, a widely known award-winning writer and former director of News and Publications at the University of Texas at El Paso, died Tuesday. He was 80. Walker's family said he died of natural causes. He had been hospitalized in recent months for heart and other ailments. UTEP President Diana Natalicio once credited Walker with helping the university create its public image through his writing and editorial judgment while also helping the institution steer through difficult controversies over the years. Walker retired Sept. 1, 1992, after almost 27 years at UTEP. He directed the News and Publications Office from 1966 to 1989. He also served a stint as director of UTEP's Texas Western Press. At UTEP, Walker helped establish NOVA, the campus news magazine. He served under six different presidents at UTEP, according to a 1993 profile published in NOVA. In the late 1960s, Walker wrote a letter to the Bhutanese royal family that helped to establish the now long-standing relationship between UTEP and the Kingdom of Bhutan. "During his tenure as editor of Nova magazine and director of UTEP News and Publications and Texas Western Press, Dale Walker’s impact extended well beyond the scope of his job description," UTEP President Diana Natalicio said. "His outreach to the royal family of Bhutan in the 1960s helped forge the valuable friendship that UTEP and the Bhutanese people maintain to this day, and his work helped create UTEP’s image in the public's mind. "In Dale’s nearly three decades of service, the university was extremely fortunate to have had such a talented chronicler and his distinct writing voice." A lifelong lover of books and words, Walker — often described as one of the outstanding popular historians in the United States — is perhaps better known as an author of an estimated 20 books. He also published countless articles in 130 periodicals ranging from Newsweek to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Writer's Digest. In 1992, Walker served as president of the national organization Western Writers of America, which presented him its lifetime achievement award in Western history and literature in 2000. The winner of four Spur Awards mostly wrote pre-Civil War Western American history, military history and biography. He also wrote extensively about novelist Jack London. "Writing professionally is a merciless life," he once told an interviewer for NOVA magazine. "The rewards are scanty and the toil is great. I wouldn't have it any other way." Walker had countless literary friends and acquaintances, including Elroy Bode, an El Paso writer and retired English teacher. "Dale was my best El Paso friend for over 50 years. We shared favorite books, favorite writers," Bode said. "I admired his talent, productivity, devotion to the written word. Books, words were the cornerstones of his life. We spent many afternoons at a Village Inn, talking over cups of coffee about life, books, world affairs. We laughed and shared without restraint as only best friends can." Walker also had a reputation at UTEP as a valuable resource for many university administrators. Wynn Anderson, who served as an assistant to various UTEP presidents, once said of Walker: "I certainly couldn't have done my job without Dale's calm presence in a crisis." Born Aug. 3, 1935, in Decatur, Ill., Walker was inspired to write after getting hooked on Jack London novels as a boy. He served in the Navy in 1958 and later settled in El Paso, where he met his wife, Alice McCord Walker. Early in his El Paso career, Walker worked as a stringer for Newsweek and news writer for Channel 9-KTSM. He also wrote on a freelance basis from home before UTEP hired him in 1966. Walker once listed “Januarius MacGahan,” the story of an American war correspondent, as one of the favorite books that he wrote. His books have been reviewed in the New York Times, Washington Post, Saturday Review, New Republic, New Yorker, The Nation, Atlantic and the Los Angeles Times. Walker spent part of his retirement years in a book-filled room at his West Side house. He was often reluctant to discuss his own work. Walker is survived by his wife, Alice; five children, Eric Walker and wife Debra of Virginia, Chris Walker and wife Alexa of Virginia, Michael Walker and wife Lydia of El Paso, John Walker and wife LaDawn of Dallas, and Dianne Walker of Iowa; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Visitation and services are scheduled from 5-9 p.m. Monday at Martin Funeral Home, 128 N. Resler. Burial will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

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Monday, December 14, 2015


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