Hamline News

In Memory of Gordon Walker

gift article

Hamline University lost one of its most dedicated alumni when Gordon Walker ’51 died on December 17, 2006. Gordon, like his father, Lloyd W. D. Walker ’29, before him, held his Hamline education and experience as one of the high points of his life. Forthcoming in sharing his well-loved stories about his early experiences at Hamline, Gordon was also generous in giving of his time and money.

As a child, Gordon’s father brought him regularly to campus for basketball and football games and for many other activities and events. One that stood out in his memory was attending the 1937 inaugural basketball game played against Stanford University in the then-new Norton Fieldhouse. At that time, neither father nor son ever imagined that in 1998 Gordon would return to campus for another dedication—this time of the new Lloyd W. D. Walker Fieldhouse, made possible by a $5 million gift from Gordon.

When Gordon was old enough to come to the campus on his own, he did so with a couple of lifelong friends, Joey Hutton ’50 and Keith Paisley ’50, whom he referred to as “the neighbor kids.” They attended Hancock Elementary School and used Hamline as their backyard. When Gordon accepted an invitation to join Hamline’s Board of Trustees, he talked often about that experience, and how important it was to bring young people to Hamline so they could have a first-hand experience with the university.

To ensure that children and youth today have the same opportunity to experience Hamline, Gordon created two influential programs through a $200,000 endowment. The first established invitational basketball tournaments for high school boys and girls, known as the Joe Hutton Memorial Tournament and the Pat Paterson Memorial Tournament. Together, the tournaments bring thousands of young people to Hamline every winter.

The second created the annual All-Sports Camp for children ages eight to fourteen. Thanks to Gordon, 400 boys and girls (and their parents) have the opportunity to become part of Hamline for two weeks every summer.

Despite these generous gifts, Gordon never considered himself “done” with giving. In 2001 he came across a story in the Oracle that impressed him. Gordon felt the author had taken a courageous stand on an important issue, and asked to meet her. “People who do things like this should get an award,” he thought, so he created a $225,000 endowment to honor undergraduate and graduate students who exemplify Hamline’s values with annual $5,000 awards. Called the John Wesley Awards, the program, thanks to the Board of Trustees, has grown to add $5,000 annual awards for faculty and staff.

Given Gordon’s dedication to Hamline, it is fitting that at his memorial service in January, President Linda Hanson announced that a longtime wish of Gordon’s would be fulfilled. Gordon had always wanted a bust of Joe Hutton, Sr. to be created, to match the bust of his father in Walker Fieldhouse and to honor Hamline’s greatest coach and the father of his friend and classmate, Joe Hutton, Jr. Thanks to Gordon, a new bust will be completed this year.

Generous to the end, the gifts of one person, Gordon A. Walker, have been transformed to the benefit of many, now and in the future.

By: Dan Loritz