Donald Peter Walker, 77, passed away at his home Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, with his family by his side.
Don was born in Crosby, Minn., to Robert and Stella Walker on Jan. 21, 1935. He was the oldest of three children having two younger sisters.
Don grew up in Crosby – his father worked in area iron mines – and he loved his grandmother’s farm.
He loved helping his grandmother work the farm while his uncles were away in the service. He undertook a multitude of chores: During the summer he would stay at the farm and put up hay, milk the cows and feed the calves.
Following graduation from Crosby-Ironton High School, at 17 years old he took advantage of a government offer and enlisted in the Navy. The deal was, if he enlisted at 17, they would discharge him before he was 21. And so off to the Navy he went, serving on the USS McNair.
After completing his tour of duty, Don made his way home to Crosby and began to look down the road to the rest of his life’s journey.
Don worked in Crosby for a couple of years, but he was far too ambitious to stay for very long. He began to put out feelers, and from an ad placed by his cousin, Robert Anderson of Medford, he was called by the manager of The Lakeland Times for temporary work.
However, that temporary work turned into a career opportunity as Enos Fisher, the owner of The Times, offered to sell the newspaper to him.
Don accepted and purchased the newspaper July 14, 1958, and built the publication from a weekly with a few hundred subscribers into a statewide powerhouse with one of the largest non-daily circulations in Wisconsin.
He was inducted into the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
The Times garnered hundreds of journalism awards, and he also helped pioneer innovative and more efficient modes of newspaper production, among other things being integrally involved in and starting the first central printing plant in Wisconsin.
Among other things, Don won the Distinguished Service Award from the Minocqua Jaycees and served as president of the Minocqua Businessmen’s Association. He was publisher of The Lakeland Times for 48 years and president of the Lakeland Printing Corporation, the parent company for The Times, for 54 years.
He served as a member of the executive board of Howard Young Medical Center, and even hosted actress Elizabeth Taylor when she attended the dedication for Howard Young. He was a member of the Minocqua Lions Club, Minocqua Fire Department, Jaycees and Ducks Unlimited, and a veteran of the Korean War.
Don donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to community charities and civic organizations through his career.
Don enjoyed golfing, fishing, being with family and friends and going to coffee every morning with the guys. He loved to tell stories of his younger days on the farm and his adventures in the Navy.
His greatest joys were being at the shack and hunting with his family and friends.
Don always said he never had any regrets and felt he had a great life.
Don is survived by one sister, Beverly Watkins (Howard) of Littleton, Colo.; two aunts, Millie Matheson of Crosby, Minn., and Margaret Smith of Monticello, Minn.; one daughter, Mardee Loomis (Pat) of Rochester, Minn.; one son, Gregg Walker (Kim) of Minocqua; nine grandchildren, Tony Loomis of Minocqua, Jesse Loomis (Pam) of Rochester, Minn., Carylann Loomis (Jake) of Rochester, Minn., Samantha Loomis of Rochester Minn., Chayce Walker, Braeden Walker and Samuel Walker, all of Minocqua, and Eli Walker and Johnathan Walker of Eau Claire; four great-grandchildren, Caleb, Aryana, Ellyanna and Cooper; five nephews, Dean Maier (Patty) of Brainerd, Minn., Dan Maier (Nona) of Baxter, Minn., Joe Maier (Helen) of Alexandria, Minn., Dave Stimac (Christy) of Anchorage, Alaska, Rick Stimac of Merrifield, Minn., and one niece, Sheryl Howerton (Dan) of Golden, Colo.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Stella Walker; one sister, Karen Maier; one son, Bradley Walker; and three nephews, Tony Maier, John Stimac and Cole Maier.
Visitation will be held Thursday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., with the funeral service at 11 a.m. at Ascension Lutheran Church in Minocqua.
A reception will follow the service at Nimsgern Funeral Home Chapel, Woodruff.
Nimsgern Funeral and Cremation Services is handling the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Minocqua Lions Club.
Online condolences may be left at http://www.nimsgernfuneral.com.