Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Reverend Walter Burton Funk, R. I. P.

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 we graduated, Walter went to the Presbyterian seminary in Austin, and I went to Corsicana, Texas, to teach school.  I still remember packing his things in my old '53 Ford to move them to the seminary before I left Austin.  I visited him there once before he graduated.


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.

14 comments:

Richard Moore said...

So sorry to hear about this. As you know I just visited with my freshman college roommate. Even when the years pass by and time lengthens between get-to-gethers, there are some bonds that remain strong. Sounds like a good fellow. RIP

Randy Johnson said...

It's always a sad day when a friend passes. We'll remember his family and him, as well as Judy and You, in our thoughts.

Scott Cupp said...

Like so many of your friends, he sounds like he was a great guy. Condolences to his family.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks folks. Walter was a real pal for many years.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm really sorry to hear this. It's truly a good friendship that stands the test of time.

Mel Odom said...

Sorry to hear this, Bill.

George said...

I agree with Cap'n Bob: good friendships last. It's hard to lose a good friend. Condolences to you and Judy and Walter's family.

Todd Mason said...

And further condolences. (It is typical of me that my longest-term friend is one I have frequent arguments with. I'll have to try this friendly business, sometime...)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear this, Bill. Jackie jsut got some bad news about a former colleague (not a close friend, but someone she worked with) who is in really bad shape with little hope of recovery and she's only in her forties.

I don't blame him for loving Princeton, by the way. On our few visits there it seemed a really nice place to live.

Jeff

Donna said...

Sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

So sad to hear about Walter. I was his secretary when he served as interim pastor for our church in 1998 in Oil City, Pa. He had friends all over the USA and was a real character. He spoke at my retirement lunch. We haven't been able to locate his daughter to send along our heartfelt loss. thanks for your blog. Linda Solinger

Bill Crider said...

Linda, if you see this, click on my contact info and send me an e-mail. The info is in my profile. I'll send you Elizabeth's address if I have it.

Shaktipwr said...

Reading this almost a year later, I am in tears and so touched to know my father had such a wonderful and meaningful friend. Thank you so much for sharing stories and keeping my father's spirit alive! He would have been pleased to bits to read this!!!!

Bill Crider said...

We still think of Walter all the time, and I'm always seeing things I'd like to tell him about. Sure do miss him.