Walter Funk and I met the week I entered The University of Texas in 1959 and began a lifelong friendship. We lived next door to each other on the fourth floor of Brackenridge Hall. Neither of us was thrilled with his roommate, so the next semester we took up residence in the penthouse, the only room on the fifth floor of the dorm. It was such a large room that we had a third roommate, Jimmy McConnell. There were no elevators in Brack Hall. We were in great shape.
Jimmy moved into an apartment the next year, and Walter and I moved to Prather Hall. I believe we were on the third floor there. Still plenty of exercise. We loved visiting the observation deck of the Tower at UT. Here's a snapshot of us there in 1960 or so. That's Walter on the right.
When I returned to grad school at UT, Walter was minister of the Presbyterian church in Round Rock and dating Eleanor Newton, a Pi Phi from Round Rock who was working on her M.A. I was the best man in their wedding in December, 1968.
We always kept in touch over the years, and one year when I was teaching at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, he served as the interim pastor of the Presbyterian church there. It was great to see him, hear his sermons, and visit with him after church every week. Later we got to visit him briefly in Princeton, New Jersey, when he was living there.. We were in New York for the Edgars, and he drove over and picked us up. He loved living in Princeton.
For years now we've been in touch by telephone and e-mail. Usually it was Walter who called, and we always had some laughs as we reminisced about the old days and talked about what was going on in our lives.
Walter had some tough times in the last few years, but lately he'd been happy and chipper when we talked. Things seemed to be going well for him, and I was glad to hear it. The last time I talked to him was a little over a month ago.
Today, I got an e-mail from his daughter. She told me that Walter had passed away. It must have been not too long after I talked to him. She didn't have a number for me and couldn't call, but I'm glad she let me know. It was all very sudden. He'd gone to the hospital with labored breathing, and they discovered that he had massive infections in his kidneys and spine. He died not long afterward.
It's been a sad day around here for both me and Judy, who's known Walter almost as long as I have. We'll be miss him a lot.