Long time Alaskan, Ed Walker, passed away peacefully at Providence Hospital on October 28, 2011 surrounded by family. Ed was born in San Juan Bautista, California on August 28, 1917. He joined the Army in 1937. At 6’4″, he was recruited to play both basketball and football for the Army in Hawaii where he made the all star teams each year. He transferred from Hawaii to Alaska in search of a new frontier and find it, he did! Following the outbreak of WWII, Ed was selected as a member of the elite joint military regiment for reconnaissance in the Aleutian Islands, the Alaskan Scouts. This group of 65 rugged individuals, hand picked for their individual toughness, later became know as Castner’s Cutthroats of which Ed was the last surviving member. His children and grandchildren were blessed to grow up hearing story after story about his time as an Alaskan Scout defending our country on Alaska soil.
While still in the Army Ed met the love of his life, Frances Park, in Fairbanks where she was working for the Corps of Engineers in the building of the Alcan Highway. They were married at Ft. Richardson on April 29,1944 and settled in Fairbanks. Given Ed’s construction background, he started the Arctic Block Construction Company with Con Frank in 1947 and built many of the first permanent structures at both Ladd and Eielson Fields, many during the winter. Frances worked as the Women’s Page editor for Fairbanks Daily News Miner.
Other early endeavors included working in a mining operation in Good News Bay, lifelong friendships were made while living in Delta Junction publishing the Walker’s Weekly local newspaper and owning the Malamute Saloon, fighting for Alaska’s Statehood and raising four children. The Walkers moved to Valdez in 1960, where Ed and his sons began building houses. They were in the middle of the construction of several houses in Valdez at the time of the 1964 earthquake. Ed immediately transitioned and began moving houses from the old town of Valdez to the “new town” of Valdez. He served as a member of the Valdez City Council during the years of rebuilding the town and the construction of the Trans Alaska oil pipeline. He built many houses in the new Valdez and his last building project was the Village Inn Motel, currently the Mountain Sky Hotel and Suites.
Ed and Frances travelled the world extensively visiting the many friends they made as a result of their ownership of the Village Inn. Ed was heralded by many as a man who would never ever give up, he was always positive and had a driving passion and vision for a better Alaska. His incomparable work ethic was an inspiration to his children. Ed was an author and respected Alaskan historian who was featured in the long running History Channel documentary on the Alaska Scouts. Having received five hip replacements, instead of slowing him down, he authored a book to help others in the same predicament titled “Hip-Hip Hooray!” Following the passing of his wife Frances, he processed this great loss by authoring a book titled “Twenty Women Who Made America Great”. He also authored books about his life including a first hand account as one of Castner’s Cutthroats of the trials and triumphs of the Alaskan Scouts. He enjoyed his final years at the Alaska Pioneer Home in Palmer where he frequently discussed politics, foreign policy and the need for an All Alaska Gasline.
Ed was preceded in death by his wife Frances P. Walker, daughter Kathleen Walker Williams, grandson Luca Sordelli, and dear friend Stella Odsather. He is survived by his son Bob Walker and wife, Debbie Cimino, of Lafayette, Colorado, daughter Suzy Walker of Palmer, son Bill Walker and wife, Donna, of Anchorage as well as his grandchildren Jason Szymanski, Brent Byrne, Trevor Walker, Felicia Welch, Anna Kate Williams, Lindsay Hobson, Tessa Linderman, Adam Walker, Jordan Walker and six great grandchildren.
A memorial service will take place in Valdez on November 5th at Faith Harbor Fellowship at 4:00 p.m. with a potluck reception immediately following the service.