Obituary of Harold Christian Walker
June 21, 2021
Harold Christian "Hal" Walker, 72, died June 21, 2021 in New York City from complications following lung transplant surgery.
He was a loving son, faithful brother, devoted godfather, loyal friend, and beloved colleague. He was also a writer, photographer, and gourmand – often all at the same time. At his core, he was creative, curious, and compassionate – and enjoined his legion of friends to be the same.
Hal was raised – along with his brother, David A. Walker – in York, Pa., by their loving mother, Doris Mae Phillips. He graduated from William Penn Senior High School, then earned a B.A. degree in journalism from Kent State University in Ohio, and a M.S. degree in international communication from American University in Washington, D.C.
On May 4, 1970, in his role as a reporter for the Kent State student newspaper, Hal witnessed the infamous Kent State shootings when members of the Ohio National Guard shot 13 unarmed students – four fatally -- at a rally protesting the Vietnam War. Hal's photos and reporting were published in many news outlets – including the York Gazette and Daily. Author James Michener included Hal's firsthand account in his famous book, "Kent State: What Happened and Why."
During the 1970s and 80s, Hal served as an editor for Merrill Lynch in its internal communications division, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, writer and co-producer of three Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethons, writer and producer of television programs for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation of New York, public relations director for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and senior writer-producer for Lifetime Medical Television.
In the late 1980s, Hal joined the prestigious public relations firm Manning, Selvage & Lee in New York City, rising to senior VP and associate creative director. He later joined Ketchum New York, the flagship office of one of the world's largest public relations agencies, where he became senior VP and global healthcare creative director.
Hal was preceded in death by his mother, Doris Mae Phillips; brother, David A. Walker; and father, David Charles Walker. He is survived by longtime companion Patricia Ainsworth, godchildren Jennifer Brandon-Ruiz and Chris Beaderstadt, and countless friends.
Memorials in Hal's name may be made to La Mama Theatre (74-A East 4th St., NY, NY, 10003), Crossing Thresholds (168-A Irving Ave., Suite 300-K, Port Chester, NY, 10573), or Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication (P.O. Box 5190, Kent, Ohio, 44242).
A celebration of Hal's life will be held Sat. Sept. 25, 12-3pm, at Caroline's (1626 Broadway) in NYC. Attendees must show proof of a Covid19 vaccination or proof of a negative Covid19 test within 72 hours of entry. Learn how to join a livestream of the celebration by visiting his Facebook page @HaroldChristianWalker.
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Hal was a one-of-a-kind friend. He loved showing me and Susan around NYC: the newest swanky restaurant or pizza joint in Manhattan. The hidden takeout counter with great Mexican food in back a tiny bodega in Queens. The rooftop bar with the best Margarita. The Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights. The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Little Italy of the Bronx. One day we ate and drank our way through all five Boroughs. He loved the City and so do we.
Hal also loved to visit our hometown (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and his (York, Pa.), part of what he affectionately called Norman Rockwell Land. And he loved meeting up to explore other cities. We met him and longtime companion Patricia in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Toronto, New Orleans, and Chicago. He insisted on seeing NYC and these places on foot as much as possible. If you could keep up with Hal and his Fitbit, you had a friend for life -- which we did.
Posted by: Jeff Palmer - Kalamazoo, MI - September 17, 2021