You are here

Obituary: Dr. Dorothy Brown Walker '44

Dr. Dorothy Brown Walker departed this dimension April 29, 2011 at age 88. Born in Kearney, Nebraska, on August 27, 1922, she was the granddaughter of Mentor A. Brown, founder of the Kearney Daily Hub, and daughter of Hugh R. and Dora Brown. She was graduated from Kearney High School in 1939 with letters in journalism, debate and cheerleading and was a member of the National Honorary Society. At Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, she was editor of the Stephens Life, vice president of the Administrative Council, and member of Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Phi Delta, honorary scholastic and journalism sororities. She was named the Ideal of Forcefulness, ""for exerting a wide and constructive influence over the campus as a whole"", upon her graduation in 1941.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1944, she was employed by Thomas J. Watson, president of the International Business Machines, for a corporate position in ""creative thinking"". Following her wartime marriage in 1944 to William K, Walker, Major, USAir Force, she was employed by Carl Byoir Associates, public relations specialists, in New York City. Major Walker, having returned from duty in the European Theater of war, was a command pilot with a B-29 group stationed on Guam prior to the dropping of the atomic bomb. Walker was discharged as a Lt. Colonel in 1945 and the couple settled in Fayetteville, New York.

The Walkers were involved in the development of the soft drink industry through Pepsi Cola franchises in Syracuse and Auburn, New York and were active in community activities. Four children were born to this union: William Kirk in 1946; Michael Richmond in 1948; Patrick Charles in 1951; and Kelly Anne in 1958. In addition to these children, eight grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren survive. Mr. Walker died in 1981 and interred in the columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1967, Dorothy was enrolled in a doctoral program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University-She received the 60-hour Masters in City and Regional Planning in 1970 and the Doctor of Philosophy in 1972. Dr. Walker's areas of specialization were community organization, communications and health and regional planning. She was co-director of Community Medical Services, Medical Society of State of New York (1970-73); consultant. United Way of America (1973-74; consultant and Assistant to Exec. Director, United Way Services, Cleveland, Ohio (1974-80). She designed curriculum and training materials for information and referral networks and formulated criteria for national thrusts in the areas of alcoholism, mental health, sickle cell anemia and rural health planning.

Retiring to Santa Barbara in 1980, Dr. Walker related her experience and expertise to development of employee assistance programs and became an active participant in the area's non-profit volunteer programs. She served on the two-county Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council for ten years, and was the agency's representative on the Aging and Long Term Care Network from the time of its inception to 1998. Dr. Walker was appointed by Santa Barbara City Council to the Senior Citizens Committee (1989-90), the Human Services Committee (1991-93, chair 1993); the Circulation Element Update Consensus Group (1995); the Community Development and Human Services Committee (1999-2002). She was president of the League of Women Voter's chapter in Fayetteville, N. Y. in 1946 and continued her participation with the Santa Barbara LWV chapter, chairing the transportation study (1989-91) and the health care study (1993-94); she received the League of Women Voters ""Certificate of Appreciation"" for 50 years service in 1998. She served as a United Way planning and allocations volunteer from 1981 to 1998. She was a member of the Santa Barbara Women's Political Committee and the Human Services Association.

In 1996 Dr. Walker was elected Senior Senator in the California Senior Senate, serving older Californians in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. She was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. Services were held on May 4, 2011 at the Samarkand Chapel, Santa Barbara, CA. Donations may be made to the non-profit Leadership Santa Barbara, P.O.Box 90727, Santa Barbara, CA 93105