"The most important thing is to enjoy your life — to be happy — it's all that matters." — Audrey Hepburn
JACKSON, Wyo. — Howard Lee Walker of Jackson, Wyo., passed away Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in St. George, Utah, at the age of 87 surrounded by his family. He leaves behind a legacy of personal and professional accomplishments and the lesson of living life to the fullest.
Howard was born Sept. 28, 1926, in Princeton to the late Harold and Vidah Lee Brookens Walker. He served his country honorably with the U.S. Army during World War II. He attended the University of Illinois where he graduated in 1949 with a degree in chemistry. It was there he met the love of his life, Patricia Ann Campbell Walker.
Howard and Patricia were married on Sept. 1, 1950, in Oswego and were married for 63 years. Theirs was a partnership of which most only dream, made only stronger by the years that passed and challenges they faced. They raised their three children together, Melissa Ann, Mark Howard and Thomas Campbell. In a lifetime filled with accomplishments, his family was the one of which he was most proud.
Howard’s professional career centered around another passion of his — food. With his chemistry background, Howard was instrumental in the development of several products at Pillsbury that Americans use everyday. He then worked as vice president of marketing at Burger King before joining Mars Incorporated. There, Howard served as VP of marketing and sales of Uncle Ben’s before being named president of Mars Inc. over North and South America and Australia. He retired in1987. Howard heralded the philosophy of “management by walking around” and was well known by employees at every level and in every department.
Skilled at the art of compromise after decades of marriage, Howard and Patricia enjoyed retirement by splitting their time between homes in Miami, Fla., (Patricia’s favorite) and Jackson, Wyo., (Howard’s favorite). Howard was an avid golfer who accomplished the once-in-a-lifetime achievement of a hole-in-one, twice. He taught his children and grandchildren how to play the game, a pastime they all shared together over the years.
Howard will be remembered for his smile, his warmth, his stories and his ability to make a friend out of anyone. He loved good food and good wine, a passion he shared with his family. He loved bike rides to the beach in Miami, walks in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, spirited games of bridge, theater, jazz music, milkshakes and stone crabs. He summed up his life best at the end, “I’ve had a heck of a ride.”
Howard is survived by his wife, Patricia; his daughter, Melissa Ann Walker, and partner, Chris Heim, of Wichita, Kan.; his son, Mark Walker, and his wife, Karen, of Jackson, Wyo.; a daughter-in-law, Linda Walker of Miami, Fla.; his grandchildren, Kristin Walker of Jackson, Wyo., Tiffany Walker of Denver, Colo., Mark Walker, his wife Brittany and son Charles of Lake Forest, Tim Walker of Chicago, Keith Walker of Jackson, Wyo., and Hayley Walker of Jackson, Wyo.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents and son, Thomas Campbell Walker.
Visitation will take place Friday from 1 p.m. until the funeral service at 2 p.m. at Wheatland United Presbyterian Church, 11839 S. Heggs Road, Plainfield. Burial will take place at the Wheatland Presbyterian Cemetery in Plainfield.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Alzheimer’s Association, Voices for Children Foundation in Miami, Fla., or to the charity of your choice in his name.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Dunn Family Funeral Home with Crematory located at 1801 Douglas Road, Oswego, Ill.