Vaughan A. Walker, Jr. ’52 died on March 20, 2023, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
(The following was provided by the Delaware Online on March 30, 2023)
Vaughan Ayer Walker passed away peacefully on March 20, 2023, at his home at Vicar’s Landing, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Vaughan was the second of two children born to his parents Ruth McLaughlin Walker and Vaughan Ayer Walker, Senior, in Island Falls, Maine. He was predeceased by his parents and his wife of sixty-two years, Elizabeth (“Libby”) Vilett Walker, sister Jeanne Walker Hanten, half-sisters Constance Walker Hollis and Sally Walker Cyr (husband Francis Cyr). He is survived by son Dana (wife Deborah) of Wilmington, Delaware, daughter Stephanie Walker Grueninger (late husband Jeff) of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, half-sister Ann Walker Hartig, half-brothers John and Warren Walker, brother-in-law Bill Hollis, granddaughters Katheryn, Olivia, Natalie, and Elizabeth, great-granddaughter Lucy, and numerable nieces and nephews.
Vaughan was one of fifteen students who graduated from Island Falls High School in 1946. Vaughan committed to the GI Bill College Program to fund his delayed admission to Bowdoin College. For most of his first Army tour, he served in Seoul, Korea during the Korean Occupation as the Regimental Radio Officer in the Seventh Infantry Division.
In 1948, Vaughan returned to the US to begin his studies at Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine. Having grown up on a farm, he was used to toiling around the clock. Vaughan worked the 4PM to midnight shift at the nearby Bath Iron Works shipyard to help make ends meet during his four years in school. Late nights were spent harmonizing with Glee Club buddies who waited up for him. Vaughan played slide trombone in the marching band and competed as a pole vaulter on the Bowdoin track team. He graduated in 1952 with a degree in Chemistry along with additional studies in Religion and German. He took great pride in his alma mater, frequently sporting his Bowdoin letter sweater, hat, and logo shirts. Vaughan completed his Army service obligation following graduation, attending Basic Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, earning the additional qualification of Jumpmaster. During his later years when facing neuropathy and equilibrium issues, he frequently noted that we needn’t fuss; he learned how to fall properly as a paratrooper. Officially discharged from the Army in 1953, Vaughan was awarded the Army of Occupation Medal from Japan and the World War II Victory Medal.
Following his military service, Vaughan began his thirty-five year career in DuPont’s Textile Fibers Department. As an Activewear Marketing Specialist, he took pride in establishing the company’s Nylon, Dacron, and Lycra products in this formative field. He deployed his plane-piloting license and alpine skiing skills developing his customer base during work-ski trips and trade shows. In his own humble words, he was ‘a pretty damn fine skier’.
While working for DuPont in Southern California, Vaughan met his Minnesota-born future wife, Libby, a flight attendant for United Airlines. The couple married within a year. They settled in Manhattan Beach before moving twice more to accommodate their expanding household as their son and daughter were soon born. A job transfer resulted in the family relocating to Wilmington, Delaware. Vaughan divided his work week between Wilmington and his Manhattan-based Empire State Building office. During his last few years at DuPont, he played a key role in ideating and overseeing the DuPont All-American Tennis Championship, a marketing event that brought in tennis professional talent to compete, as well as interface, with DuPont Textile Fiber Activewear customers.
Through it all, Island Falls was ever-present in Vaughan’s heart and mind. He regaled friends and family and legacy writing colleagues with stories about living in the boondocks of Northern Maine. He credits his paternal grandfather ‘Gramp, a life-long student of nature’ and ‘a treasure’, with teaching him everything one needed to know about the outdoors. He put those skills and more to good use working on every aspect of building the lakefront home in his Island Falls hometown that became a beloved summer-long destination. Along with their West Highland Terrier Mac, Vaughan and Libby sailed and kayaked year after year on Pleasant Pond, a glorious, spring-fed, unspoiled natural setting. In the early 2000’s, Vaughan and Libby moved from Wilmington, Delaware, to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Vaughan was a Renaissance man: pilot, singer, harmonica player, carpenter, handyman, runner before running was really a thing (don’t ever say jogger), billiards player, golfer, tennis player, kayaker, sailer, gardener, reader, and completer of the NYT crossword puzzles – in ink, he would always add with pride. Vaughan flourished after an early retirement from DuPont. He kept busy assisting Secretariat, a local hospitality firm, and leveraged his basement workshop to restore and create custom woodworks – tables, chairs, cabinets, shelves, birdhouses, and walking sticks from apple branches gathered in North Carolina.
At Vicar’s Landing, their community for more than ten years, Vaughan loved being a part of the legacy writing group and occasional actor/performer. Courtyard cocktails parties provided a pleasurable opportunity to socialize with neighbors and friends. Vaughan and Libby’s sweet rescue dog Maisie was a dear companion to Vaughan for the past two years, and he always considered what leftovers Maisie might savor before placing his order at any restaurant.
Vaughan was known as ‘Charlie’ to his Maine friends and family. Along with his half-brothers, he was part of the eponymous naming inspiration for the family-owned Va-Jo-Wa Golf Course. He was loved and remembered with fondness by all. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends, but his memory will live on through his short stories, woodwork creations, and Maine lakeside home. On his final evening, Vaughan almost certainly heard the call of his not-long-departed gourmand wife Libby inviting him to join her side for a home-cooked dinner. Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.”