Harold Dean Walker

(May 13, 1926 – December 2, 2018)

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Harold Dean Walker, age 92, a native of Stephenville, Texas, passed away peacefully, December 2, 2018. Harold died from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease after being diagnosed in early 2018. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at Harvest Hills Funeral Home, 118 Second Street, Hico, Texas, followed by private family burial at Erath Gardens of Memory in Stephenville, Texas.

Visitation will be 5-7:00 p.m., Monday, December 3, 2018 at Harvest Hills Funeral Home, 118 Second Street, Hico, Texas.

Harold was born in Stephenville, May 13, 1926, to Charles Adolphus Walker and Willie Emma Stone Walker, both deceased.

In a long, distinguished career, Harold was very proud of his role as a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather to his devoted family.
Harold was a World War II Navy veteran, educator, cattle rancher and realtor, and did many community service projects while working and living in Hico, Texas. He graduated from Stephenville High School in 1943, Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in January 1949, and Master of Education in Agricultural Education in August 1954.

Harold attended John Tarleton Agricultural College for one year after high school and participated in the R.O.T.C program, then began his service with the US Navy, September 21, 1944.

Harold served on the U.S.S. Bunker Hill CV 17, one of the largest aircraft carriers in service at the time. The Bunker Hill was part of the 5th Fleet. Harold worked in the ships executive offices initially and then became a Quartermaster in the Navigation Division. Harold was at the helm on D Day Operations in Okinawa. The planes that took off from the Bunker Hill were the first “carrier-based” planes to strike Tokyo. Two days before Harold’s 19th birthday, May 11, 1945, the Bunker Hill was hit by two Japanese Kamikazes. The Bunker Hill was severely damaged and the crew of almost 3,000 sailors buried 373 men at sea and there were more than 200 injured in the surprise strike. Harold was trapped below deck for several hours after the strike, but ultimately crawled out more than 400 feet to fresh air and then helped the wounded and transferred men over to the U.S.S. Wilkes-Barre which helped the Bunker Hill with firefighting. Harold received a commendation medal for lifesaving. He later received the Fleet appointment to the Naval Academy Preparatory School and attended the Tomes School in Bainbridge, Maryland.

Harold soon decided not to make the Navy a career and was honorably discharged on June 20, 1946. He completed his undergrad studies at Texas A&M and married the love of his life, Bettye. They married July 22, 1950, and raised four loving children.

After a short stint teaching war veterans multiple trade skills at a training facility in Cool, Texas Harold was hired as the Vocational Agriculture Teacher at Hico High School. Harold served as the Ag teacher for 22 years. Harold mentored many Ag students with their livestock projects and loved preparing students for livestock shows, Future Farmers of America Leadership Contests, or Judging teams. He proudly coached the State Champion Range and Pasture Judging Teams in 1969, 1970 and 1971, earning the Championship Teams trips to the National Contests held each year in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Harold was proud to host the annual Hico Livestock Show with his FFA Chapter, which was known as the largest “Jackpot” livestock show of its kind in the State of Texas.

Harold and his Ag students did many projects beneficial to the school and the community. Harold was an accomplished welder, and took great pride in teaching others that particular trade.

Harold became Superintendent of Schools in Hico in 1973. During his tenure, many advancements were made in fiscal operating performance and facility improvements including a new Junior High School. Harold retired from that post in May 1983, but enjoyed mentoring many former students, and the special friendships he made during his time at Hico ISD.

Harold loved Hico and was involved in many community activities serving as past President of the Chamber of Commerce, Hico Civic Club and Bluebonnet Country Club. Harold spent many Winter Saturdays overseeing the City of Hico merchant holiday prize drawings. Harold was also a long time announcer for Hico Tiger football games. Harold was extremely honored to receive the Hico “Citizen of the Year” award in 1983.

In retirement, Harold tended to his cattle, watched Texas Aggie sports, Texas Ranger baseball, and shoot ‘em up westerns on TV, traveled to the mountains with Bettye, played some golf, completed some ranch and home construction projects, and was active in Ranch real estate. Harold also served as the Southwest Area Chairman for the U.S.S. Bunker Hill Association and served as host for one of the ship’s reunions in San Diego, California in 2006.

Harold cherished spending time with best friends, Milburn (Tex) Knudson, Ernest (Buck) Meador, and J.L. (Jimmie) Ramage and missed them dearly as they all preceded him in death.

Harold and Bettye sold their ranch land and home in Hico in 1993 and moved to Legends Country Club in Stephenville. Harold was very active in the Old Goats coffee group there.

Harold was a long time member of the Church of Christ.

Harold was preceded in death by sisters, Fenella Jarratt and Marjorie Nunn, brothers, Charles Walker and Thurman Walker

Harold is survived by his wife of 68 years, Bettye Talley Counts Walker, daughter, Johnette Knudson and husband, Ole; grandson, Jeff Knudson, granddaughter, Tiffany Knudson; daughter, Stephanie Shepherd and husband, Billy Jack; grandson, Jack Shepherd, grandson, Brian Shepherd; son, Dean Walker and wife, Vivian, grandson, Chris Walker, grandson, Andy Walker; son, Dale Walker and wife, Deborah, granddaughter, Dalayna Richardson, grandson, Matthew Walker, grandson, Zachary Walker; sister, Deretta Bridges, brother, Donald Walker, and 9 great-grandchildren
Pallbearers are grandsons; Jeff Knudson, Jack Shepherd, Brian Shepherd, Chris Walker, Andy Walker, Matthew Walker, and Zachary Walker

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hico Education Foundation, 136 Post Office Rd., Hico, Texas 76457.

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