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Pockets full of sand

Joe Walker remembers his brother's childhood plan

Joe Walker remembers his brother's childhood plan

July 18, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back at a member of the community who died in the past week through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about John Randolph "Randy" Walker Jr., who died July 9 at the age of 86. His obituary appeared in the July 12 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

Joe Walker said there were a lot of adventures with his two older brothers as they grew up in the 1920s in a third-floor townhouse in downtown Hagerstown with their father, the dentist.

The oldest brother, John Randolph "Randy" Walker Jr., who died July 9 at the age of 86, once hatched a plan to throw the youngest brother - Joe - over the fence at the construction site of the Alexander Hotel so he could fill his pockets with sand.


"We were bringing it back for a sandbox we boys planned to build," Joe said. Smiling as he remembered that event, Joe said the episode was repeated several times until the enterprising trio of Randy, Joe and middle brother, Alvin "Doc," had enough sand for their needs.

"Randy was three years older than me," Joe said Wednesday afternoon as he sat in his North Hagerstown kitchen with his wife, June, and daughter, Kathy Hawbaker, sharing memories of Randy. Now, Joe is the only surviving brother.

The Walker boys' childhood home and the dental office of their father, Dr. John Randolph Walker, was where the new University System of Maryland at Hagerstown campus is being built, Joe said.

As the boys grew, Randy went off to Vesper George University of Boston, where he received a degree in industrial and design engineering. In 1937, he went to work at Fairchild, once a booming aeronautics firm in Hagerstown.

Described by Joe as a key figure in that firm's expansion, Randy later worked with Boeing and the Aeronca Corp., designing facilities throughout the United States.

"Randy was very industrious," Joe said. "Either you had a hammer or a saw in your hand or you weren't working hard enough to suit him."

At the July 14 funeral, the Rev. Fred Harris, pastor of First Christian Church, shared his memories of Randy that included service to his country during World War II as chief of the Munich Switch in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Once back after the war, Randy was active at Morris Frock American Legion Post 42, as well as a number of other veterans groups. Still, he contributed to several other charities and gave of his time to many community organizations.

"Randy also played the violin," Joe said. "He could do so many things."

As Joe said that, he pulled out an old notebook that smelled of age and long storage, but which held evidence of brother Randy's prowess in another area - art. Page after page of drawings illustrated his talent as well as his humor.

Those nuggets will sustain Randy's family as they move ahead without him. And of course, Joe will always have his own special memory in the form of his "pockets full of sand."

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