In Memoriam: Lois A. Walker

Activist to the End – 1927–2008

Foundation Lifetime Member Lois Walker died of natural causes on Nov. 6, 2008, at her Harstine Island home in Shelton, Wash. Writer, journalist, corporate director, tree farmer and local political activist, Lois had a career in journalism and public relations, traveled abroad, raised three children, and held executive positions when that was not commonplace for women.

Born on Dec. 7, 1927, to Harry and Ruth (Ashway) Walker, she was raised in Chambersburg, Penn. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1949, she wrote for the Chambersburg Public Opinion newspaper and later for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the late 50s, Lois worked for USO in West Germany.

Lois started a family in the early sixties. In 1961, she relocated to San Jose, Calif., working in public relations for Scott Paper and then General Electric. She rose to Director of Public Relations for General Electric’s Nuclear Energy Division. In 1976, tiring of the corporate world, Lois sold her home, loaded her three children in a motor home, and traveled north. Intrigued with the beauty of the Puget Sound and the abundant rainfall, she purchased land on Harstine Island to grow Christmas trees and built a chalet home. The family named their farm “The Enchanted Forest.” Shortly thereafter, she passed her real estate broker’s license. She managed several tree farms and practiced real estate until retiring in 1998. Known as a trailblazer, Lois never hesitated to articulate her strong beliefs for women’s rights and good government. She was a self-appointed “watchdog” of public officials and community leaders. She enjoyed skewering politicians and community leaders, local and national, for lies and double standards. She wrote many telling letters-to-the-editor to the Shelton Journal and the Olympian.

Lois was an avid reader, loved classical music, roses and her garden. She enjoyed bridge, photography, white water rafting, canoeing, skiing, camping, hiking and pets that respected the carpet. She enjoyed traveling to Canada, Mexico, and the Swiss/ German Alps. She is survived by her daughter Meg Kester (Greg) of Shelton, Wash., sons Alan Walker of Kent, Wash.,  Eric Walker (Kasey) of Gig Harbor, Wash., and grandchildren Travis and Emily.

An activist to the end, Lois became concerned a year ago when her state officials settled a lawsuit with a religious-right legal group, and agreed to place a nativity scene on the third floor of the Washington State Capitol. She suggested that the Foundation place a Winter Solstice sign similar to the sign that appears annually in the Wisconsin State Capitol. Thanks to her persistence, there is such a sign for the month of December 2008 next to the nativity display.

Lois lived long enough to vote and to know the outcome of the election. Her letter to the Olympian newspaper was published posthumously on Dec. 8 and reads:

“The camel is in the tent. Not just his nose, his whole stinking flea-infested body.

“It started as the result of a right-wing religious fundamentalist lawsuit to force a nativity scene into the Capitol building. Now, thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Chris Gregoire, we have already been treated to a church service with sermons and hymns in the Rotunda. This under the rubric of Christian Heritage Week. “Coming up is a pre-approved living nativity play at the state’s Sylvester Park in December and a faith advocacy day in January.

“That’s what happens when the camel gets into the tent. Despite the fact that the recent service met none of the three tests for approval by the state Department of General Administration, we had a religious service in our secular, tax-paid seat of government.

“This is an insult to both our state and federal constitutions and to our citizens, whose taxes pay for events like these. Washington state, like the United States, is a secular government under a God-free constitution. Thankfully, it owes no allegiance to any religion.

“Given what we have observed of nations ruled by religion, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, we are especially fortunate that both the United States and Washington state constitutions prohibit the intrusion of religion into government. “So let’s stop this illegitimate nonsense now. No more Christian Heritage Weeks, no more nativity scenes, no more faith advocacy days. The camel must go back to the barnyard where he belongs.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation