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Lawrence David Walker, October 4, 1931 - January 27, 2009
Larry Guitar 1.jpg

We mourn the passing of my beloved father-in-law, Lawrence David Walker, on January 27, 2009.  Below are his obituary published in the Salt Lake Tribune and a short eulogy that his son, my husband Lawrence Arthur Walker, also wrote for a memorial card that was distributed at his wake. 

Lawrence David Walker, Ph.D.

Dr. Lawrence David Walker (Larry) of Salt Lake City passed away on January 27, 2009 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.  Born in Las Animas, Colorado on October 4, 1931 to Annie Leonard Walker and Edward Robert Walker, Sr., the youngest of six children, he attended Catholic schools in Pueblo, Colorado.  He graduated from Pueblo Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree and then went on to Stanford University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and with Great Distinction on April 3, 1953.  It was there he met his wife, Lee, whom he married in December 1954.  After working as a credit investigator at Dun and Bradstreet in San Francisco and teaching high school in San Diego, he resumed his studies, working his way through graduate school at produce warehouses and other jobs. He completed a Master’s in European History at Stanford in 1957, then earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of California at Berkeley on January 29, 1965, the first member of his family to earn a doctorate.  He taught at the University of Southern California from 1964 to 1969, then at Illinois State University from 1969 to 1989, where he retired as full professor. 

During his career, he received a research fellowship from the National Endowment of the Humanities, which took him and his family to Germany for a year from 1971-72.  He published Hitler Youth and Catholic Youth 1933-36: A Study in Totalitarian Conquest (Catholic University of America Press), which chronicled the struggle and ultimate demise of the Catholic youth movement under the Nazi regime.  His research highlighted the efforts of the Catholic Church and individual Catholics to resist the Nazi regime.  He was a pioneer in the use of statistical methods in historical research, conducting a number of studies comparing all German and Austrian priests against police records of those who fell afoul of the authorities, discovering among other things that higher-ranking priests, rather than “young firebrands,” were more likely to resist the Nazi tyranny.  His research interests also included Family History, Psychohistory, Intellectual History and Historiography, and he published a number of articles in these areas in scholarly journals in the U.S. and abroad, as well as many book reviews.  He settled in Salt Lake City in 1989 when his wife, Lee, took a position as Professor of Nursing at the University of Utah College of Nursing.

Larry was loved by his family and friends for his kindness, sense of humor, love of learning and intellectual debate, encouragement of education for his wife and family, and his appreciation for music, especially his devotion to classical music radio station KBYU.  He read avidly all his life and carried on a wide-ranging correspondence with friends and family all over the world.   He is survived by Dr. B. Lee Walker, his wife of 54 years, and his sons Lawrence Arthur Walker (Geling), currently serving with the U.S. Department of State in Taipei, and Gregory Anthony Walker (Heather), a safety assurance manager for Toys-R-Us in New Jersey, as well as five grandchildren: Christel, Cole, Cory, Carson and Aisha. 

The family’s thanks go out to his doctors and nurses who gave him such good and loving care, both at the University of Utah and Vistacare Hospice.

Friends are invited to call upon the family at a wake service on Saturday, January 31st, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City.  He will be laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery Salt Lake City.  In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to CGRR, P.O. Box 1317, West Jordan, Utah 84084, a charity that rescues Golden Retrievers; to educational radio station KBYU; or to your favorite charity.  Condolences messages may be left on the website of Starks Funeral Parlor.


A memorial card with his photo and the following inscription were distributed at his wake:

Lawrence David Walker, Ph.D.

October 4, 1931 – January 27, 2009

A professor for 25 years.  A student for 77.

A man from the mountains of the American West who loved intellectual discussions, history, classical music, folk guitar, well-crafted movies, and books, books, books. 

A man of many vocations – professor, teacher, steelworker, warehouse laborer, credit investigator, toll collector – but only one avocation:  learning.

A Celt, both poet and pugilist, who embodied the soul of his people, never forgot their struggles, and understood the struggle of all who face oppression.

An historian who told the untold story of unknown people who lived under tyranny and risked everything to stand against it.

For many, their best friend.  For many more, their best companion in respectful intellectual discussions in which two people journey together to find the truth.  For almost everyone, their best correspondent.

A kind man, a husband and father who loved his family and whose family loved him beyond what words can tell.

We remember him always.

LD Walker on 50th wedding anniversary

 L.D. Walker on 50th wedding anniversary

Wake memorial service.  Music playlist at wake.  Final resting place. Final reading list. Final Netflix queue.