Gaylord Walker, age 91, died peacefully and courageously in his McLean, VA home on March 21, 2016 of Parkinsons Disease. Survivors include two sons, Lawrence of Prescott, Arizona and Mark of Emmitsburg, MD; and three grandchildren, Justin, John and Violet. His wife of 54 years, Joanne Smith Walker, preceded him in death in 2005.
Born on March 2, 1925 in Idabel, Oklahoma, he was the son of Thomas Byrd and Nola Anderson Walker. Gaylord attended Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA and was a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Bachelors degree in Foreign Affairs. He studied at the University in Gernoble, France, where he met and courted his wife Joanne.
He was accepted into the rigorous V-12 Navy College Training Program for officers at Mt. St. Mary”s College during World War II and served on the Japanese front as commanding officer of the LST-1080. Later, he was one of the first to fly over Nagasaki following the detonation of the atomic bomb in August of 1945.
Gaylord”s professional career as a Foreign Service Officer with USAID spanned 20 years in developing countries including Cambodia, Thailand, Morocco, Tunisia, and Ethiopia. He and his family immersed themselves in the culture of indigenous locals, camped in the Sahara Desert, traveled by elephant, and assisted MEDICO in war-ravaged Cambodia. He hunted in wildlife safaris, pulled through a bout with malaria, and sailed extensively in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Eastern Seaboard. Many noteworthy tales also came out of his involvement with the rescue mission of the USS Liberty during the 6 day war in the summer of ’67.
Gaylord was a cultured and adventurous man who enjoyed photography, traveling, scuba diving, American history, astronomy, and even belonged to an opera club. He had a penchant for living: he lived right and he lived well. Gaylord, the quintessential gentleman, with such aplomb and diplomacy, will be remembered for his virtuous ways by all who knew him. He was the embodiment of “The Greatest Generation” and a principled man. Truly he leaves a legacy of goodwill, professional achievement and moral character to those who succeed him. His example will continue to inspire for years to come. Gaylord”s own reflections speak for themselves in his headstone epithet which reads: “Thanks be to God for a wonderful life.”