This biography is courtesy of the Walker family:
Don Walker, who worked as a reporter and editor in Milwaukee for nearly four decades, died unexpectedly on May 22, 2015, of sudden cardiac arrest. He was 62.
He was born March 7, 1953, in Detroit, Mich. His oldest sister taught him to read at a very young age, a precursor to his becoming an avid reader and a knowledgeable newsman. He graduated from Brother Rice High School in 1971 and was on staff at the school newspaper, The Chieftain. He was on the track and cross country teams for four years and set a track record there in the 4 x 800 relay that still stands. He also was a loyal friend and maintained many relationships that dated from his days at Brother Rice.
Don graduated from Marquette University with bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1975 and received his master’s degree in urban affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1981.
Don’s initial goal was a career in radio or TV broadcasting, but landing his first job as a reporter at the Port Pilot in Port Washington, Wis., in 1975 set the tone for a long career in print journalism. His next job was as assistant regional editor at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram in 1978. Later that year, after returning to the Milwaukee area to attend graduate school, he was hired part-time by the Milwaukee Sentinel and then full-time by The Milwaukee Journal as a reporter and copy editor. He was a charter member of the Milwaukee Newspaper Guild.
He went on to serve in many management positions at the paper, including assistant metro editor, metro editor and national and world editor. As new technology brought with it new electronic forms of communication, Don moved with the times and embraced its use enthusiastically. Further on in his career, he returned to reporting for the business, sports and news departments at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and at the time of his death was reporting on the efforts of the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks to build a new arena.
Although Don and his wife, Sue, were in the same Marquette University freshman orientation group, they were not formally introduced until junior year. They were part of a mutual group of friends at MU and started dating in 1974. Don proposed to Sue at the Fox and Hounds restaurant in December 1979. They were married at the Church of the Gesu on Oct. 11, 1980; Father John P. Raynor, then president of MU, officiated the ceremony.
Sue graduated from MU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social work in 1975 and obtained a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work, in 1979.
Sue and Don’s older child, Timothy, was born in 1989. Peter was born in 1993. For many years Don devoted time to coaching his sons along with other boys and girls on the track teams at St. Jude Grade School in Wauwatosa.
Both boys graduated from Marquette University High School. Tim played on the varsity volleyball team, and Peter played volleyball for two years and ran cross country for two years. Tim graduated from Carthage College, cum laude, in 2012 with a degree in education and works as a Spanish teacher. He played volleyball at Carthage College all four years, was an MVP and an All-American. Peter graduated from Loyola University in Chicago in 2015 with a degree in accounting and is now in graduate school at UW-Milwaukee.
Don was passionate about running. He ran eight marathons until experiencing back problems and then took up and enjoyed bicycling as his primary form of exercise. He still continued to participate in some limited runs and came in third place for his age group at the Hank Aaron run in August 2014. Other hobbies included photography, music, reading both fiction and nonfiction on a wide range of subjects, canoeing, hiking, and watching sports, particularly the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers, MU basketball and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sue, Don and the boys enjoyed family vacations together to many destinations in the US. In 2010, the family traveled to Spain to spend a week with Tim, who was studying there. Sue and Don’s last vacation was spent canoeing and hiking in Vermont.
Don also enjoyed spending time in the Detroit area with his three older siblings (two sisters, Kathy and Sally, and one brother, Joe). He always kept close ties to Michigan and enjoyed opportunities to write about Detroit.
In addition to his work in journalism, Don loved teaching. He was invited to speak about his profession at many classes at various levels of education, most recently at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He taught a course on the use of electronic communication in journalism at Carroll University in 2014, receiving great reviews from his students.
Don was generous with his time and talent and put his heart and soul into his work. He loved chasing the story, was diligent and focused, and had an incredible work ethic. As much as he loved his work, he always put family first. He will be remembered as great journalist but also as a loving husband and devoted father.
“That a man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; Who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children, Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; Who leaves the world a better place than he found it; Whether by an improved poppy or a perfect poem or a rescued soul; Who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; Who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson