Ken Walton, long-time WATR volunteer & staffer, passes

On Tuesday (1/13,2015), Bennedene Walton called and left a message that her husband, Ken Walton, had died at their apartment in Cullowhee.  Bennedene has been living with family in Jacksonville NC since Thanksgiving.  (Oops! In previous messages I said Jacksonville FL – not Jacksonville  NC.  My bad!)

Rick Queen, WATR pres., reminded me of some of Ken’s contributions to our association over the years and  asked how we might remember Ken.

Ken made many contributions to WATR and the watershed.    When he first came to the area he got an bachelor’s degree in sociology (magna cum laude).  Then he followed his passion by getting a second degree in Soil and Water Conservation (magna cum laude, again).

He collected monthly stream samples for the VWIN program for years.  He developed his macro-invertebrate sampling skills over the past 4 or 5 years — and he led biomonitoring teams.  He was scheduled to teach the SMIE macro-invert training for volunteers in March.   He was named the “WATR volunteer of the Year” in 2008.  As a university technician, he collected samples for water quality monitoring in Haywood County for WCU Geoscience projects.

No task was too, simple.  Ken was a loyal member of the Scotts Creek Cleanup Team at Monteith Farmstead Park.  The team regularly cleaned trash from the creek the first Saturday of each month for the past 6 years.

When he and I worked together his mind-numbing puns flowed like a river.  After some far-fetched play on words, typically he would give me a small sly smile and then groan — to save me the trouble.  I’ll miss those puns!

In memory of Ken, Bennedene has asked for gifts to go for three of his life passions.

Benneden has directed me to set up a WATR account to promote aquatic, experiential learning for youth.  The focus will be on introducing young kids to the stream biology and to fishing.  She has offered a generous pledge to start this activity.  Please send gifts to WATR, PO Box 2593, Bryson City, NC 28713 – or online via PayPal at this website.

Meanwhile, others have been suggesting memorials that we might put in place, like having an annual event with his name, planting a tree in his honor, and more.  Feel free to make your suggestions – post them in comments to this blog or to our facebook page at WATRnc.

His other great passion was for jammin’ and teachin’ kids the banjo.  He was an instructor with Junior Appalachian Muscians.  Check out the Jackson County page. If this is your interest, I suggest that you navigate to the donation page.

He and Bennedene have been active members of the Living Waters Lutheran Church in Cherokee.  There is some discussion about having a memorial service in the form of “A Homecoming for Ken.”  Gifts to the church are certainly welcome.  Go the chruch’s website.

WATR Picnic 06 13 08 Ken Bene Eric VG Walton Cooper Smyrl fun cropped Ken Walton 2014 07 17 Cropped 2011 picnic Ken and Nick 2010 9 24 Fall Dinner Ken & Bene GOOD 2011 08 24 Ken Walton Good 60 2011 5th Picnic Ken Walton close up

Ken, our friend, you are, and you will be, missed!

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