WALKER, Tom

Longtime Tucson journalist and author Tom Walker died on July 27, 2018 at the age of 76. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Linda Kay (Haley) Walker; son, Michael Walker, and his wife Remy; daughter, Christina Walker Rowden; two grandchildren, Nikolas Walker and Cait Rowden; his sister, Mary Walker Baron and her spouse, Rabbi Leslie Bergson; and his niece, Jesse Leffler, and her husband, Mike Leffler, and their two children. Born January 24, 1942, to Ira F. and Alice B. "Bunny" Walker in Wickenburg, Ariz., Tom grew up on Arizona cattle ranches, which became a source of inspiration for his later fiction writing. However, he never really fit in as a cowboy. "I always thought cattle ranching would be a great way of life, if it weren't for the cattle," he explained. Upon earning a B.A. in English/Education at Arizona State University, he served in the U.S. Air Force as a Minuteman missile officer. While in the Air Force, he earned an M.A. in mass communication from the University of Denver. After completing his military service, he worked for nearly 30 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, the last 17 for the Arizona Daily Star. Throughout his newspaper career, he used the byline, "Thom Walker," sometimes to the amusement of colleagues. When he left the Tucson Citizen in 1981, the staff presented him with a poster bearing these words: "We're all going to remember you as a serious, dedicated journalist who fought a never-ending battle for the truth and who couldn't even spell his own name." Tom also taught journalism classes at Pima Community College, serving as advisor to the student newspaper, Aztec Press, in 1998. He retired from newspapers in 2000, but moved on to a successful second career as a grant-writer for Tucson nonprofits, including the Community Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services. In collaboration with his sister, Mary, he wrote a novel, Contrary Creek, about a ranching family caught up in the events of a turbulent schoolyear in a small town. It was self-published in 2010 and enjoyed good reviews and sales. He and his wife later collaborated on another novel, Half in Two, based loosely on the first summer of their marriage, on a Forest Service lookout tower. The novel is scheduled to be published soon by Steel Cut Press. Tom was an active member of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Tucson, singing in the church's choir and leading Bible classes. A Memorial Service is scheduled for Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. at St. Mark's UMC, 1431 W. Magee Road. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to St. Mark's UMC or to Interfaith Community Services, 2820 W. Ina Road, Tucson 85741. Arrangements by HUDGEL'S SWAN FUNERAL HOME.