Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tribute to Grandpa Von

Roland "Von" Walker 
In loving memory of Roland L. "Von" Walker who was born July 16, 1926, to Edwin and Ethyl June Walker in Lewisville, Idaho, and died Monday, June 8, 2009, at the age of 82.

He was the third of seven children. His siblings include Owen (Venice), Lois (Jack Hilterbrand), Phillis (Elmer Summers), Merrill (Arlene), Lorna (Sherril Vance), Otis (Jeri) and a half sister, Carolyn (Norman Clark). He was preceded in death by Phillis and Merrill.

Von grew up in Lewisville, where he attended elementary in the old rock school house. He graduated from Midway High School in 1944, where he served as student body president. He played high school basketball under coach Brick Parkinson. He also played on the interstate regional M-Men team under coach Terry Peterson. Von's military service during WWII was spent in the Philippine Islands, where he was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant.

He was married to Dorothy McNeil January 16, 1948, in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple. They had seven children, Marla (Jay Evans), Celia (Blair Erickson), Jan (Brad Gordon), Roland N. "Rollie" (Sally Creer), Blair (Debbie Call), Loin (Vickie Saunders) and Keith (Allyson Fife).

In his later years, he loved the constant friendship and protection from his little poodle named "Tish." Von and Dorothy have 32 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren, with more on the way. Von served in many positions in the church, including teacher, member of the Bishopric, Bishop and High Councilman at Ricks College. He was loved particularly by the youth of the church. He also served on the boards of canals, cemeteries and various businesses.

In his career, he was an outstanding farmer. He started with a few acres in the Lewisville valley and drilled one of the first wells on the Rexburg Bench. From there he expanded to the Osgood, Ririe and Hamer areas, where he cleared sagebrush and grew to farming thousands of acres as a prominent potato farmer. He also loved raising cattle and other livestock, and he was a good businessman.

He lived an adventurous life, where he built and operated diamond mining operations in Liberia, Africa. He was the last American removed from Liberia before that country was overtaken by warring coupes. When he returned from Africa, he was the recipient of a heart transplant, which extended his life a remarkable fifteen years. In addition to his career in agriculture, he expanded into nation-wide video rental businesses, real estate developments and more. He was an avid journal writer and book reader. He loved his cabin in Island Park, and he loved to go fishing with his children and grandchildren. He established many memorable traditions with them. Of all he was able to do in life, his greatest accomplishment was the encouragement and inspiration he gave to his children, grandchildren and other youth who were able to cross his path. He lived a most remarkable life.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 13, 2009, at the Lewisville 1st Ward Chapel, with Bishop James Gneiting officiating. The family will visit with friends from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday evening and from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, both at the church. Burial will be in Lewisville Cemetery under the direction of Eckersell Funeral Home

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