Vignettes about Events & People

Dr. Charles Kerr and Harold Walker

Dr. Charles Kerr and Harold Walker were on the College's Board of Trustees for 22 years.Dr. Charles Kerr and Harold Walker hold the distinction of having served the longest of any member of the college’s Board of Trustees since the first Board was elected in 1966. Both Kerr and Walker served 22 years. Kerr’s service was continuous, from 1971 to 1993. Walker’s had just one interruption. He served from 1967 to 1979, and again from 1985 until 1995.


Kerr, from Winfield, did not seek re-election in 1993. Walker, from Arkansas City, died June 25, 1995, at age 67. Kerr died Oct. 14, 1998, at age 78.


Both men left indelible marks on the college. On Oct. 7, 1993, Kerr and Walker were honored by having their names placed on two college buildings. The Kerr Business Technology Building and the Walker Industrial Technology Building, both on the main campus, were officially named that night. Said Dr. Pat McAtee, college president, "An organization should recognize quality service. These two people have given their lives in service to the college. The college would be remiss if in some way it did not recognize them." Then-Dean of Instruction, Dr. Bob Paxton, had this to say: "Mr. Walker contributed to the development of the Industrial Technology program, and Dr. Kerr did also. They were both committed for so long to instructional excellence, it was fitting to name the instructional buildings after them." Walker said he was shocked, and "overwhelmed by the whole thing," and had never expected such an honor. "I appreciate those who thought enough of what I've done to dedicate the building to me," Walker said. Kerr also was surprised by the honor. He said serving as a trustee was the most rewarding task he had ever done. "I like to see all youth have an opportunity to go to school. It is rewarding to have a small part in it."


Kerr was born on a farm near Mahaska, Kan., one of five children. He graduated from Mahaska High School, and was a veteran of World War II. Following his discharge in 1946, he married Mary Jane Graham on Dec. 28, 1949, in Mahaska. Kerr received his bachelor’s degree in social science from the College of Emporia in 1951, and completed his master’s degree in school administration at Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia in 1954. He taught in Lathan, Kan., served as elementary principal and later superintendent at Peabody, Kan., then moved to Fayetteville, Ark., in 1961, where he completed his doctorate of education degree in 1963. A year earlier, the Kerrs moved to Winfield, where Charles became professor of teacher education at Southwestern College. He also chaired the Division of Social Sciences for three years. In 1970, he began employment at Winfield State Hospital & Training Center as program director, and he wrote the original grant for the extremely successful Foster Grandparent Program. He retired from WSH&TC in 1985, following 15 years service.


Walker loved Cowley and was one of the college’s biggest supporters. He was such a devout supporter, Walker was buried in the black and orange jacket he was seen wearing to all Cowley athletic events. His commitment to the college was unsurpassed, and his genuine concern for the well being of the students and employees was his trademark. "Harold was a committed, active part of the board," McAtee said. "He was very opinionated about things he believed in strongly. He was a supporter, lover, and believer of the college." Walker attended cultural, social and athletic events in which students were involved. If a decision adversely affected Cowley students, Walker was quick to vote it down during Board meetings.


His first love was technical education. He spent many years teaching vocational agriculture after graduating from Kansas State University. He had his own real estate business in Arkansas City and had worked at The Home National Bank in its agriculture loan department. "His whole life was committed to the institution," McAtee said. "He had seen the overall growth and development of this institution." McAtee said the stability Walker gave the Board of Trustees was crucial. "Harold just wasn’t a participant at the meetings, he was a long-term stable foundation of the board."


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