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Richard J Walton

Richard J Walton

(1928-2012) ~ Inducted 2016

Richard J. Walton was a versatile man with a variety of activities and achievements. Among his many roles were journalist, radio talk show host, historian of American foreign policy, professor of political science, union leader, social activist, and one-time third party candidate for vice president. Richard was born on May 28, 1928 in Saratoga Springs, New York, but moved to Providence with his family as a child. He graduated from Classical High School, Brown University, and the Columbia School of Journalism, where he received a masters degree in 1954. His studies at Brown were interrupted for two years while he served in the U.S. Navy as a journalists mate. After a brief stint with the Providence Journal (1954-55), he wrote for two New York newspapers and then became actively involved in broadcast journalism with the voice of America from 1959 to 1961, both in Washington, D.C. and New York City, as producer, host, and principal United Nations correspondent. Following his work with VOA, Richard became a college professor, teaching at three schools while embarking on a writing career specializing in Americas conduct of foreign policy in the era of the Cold War. He wrote twelve books and numerous articles, most of them on this theme, from 1967 through the decade of the 1970s. By 1980, Richard turned to intense political and social activism becoming involved with the Citizens Party of environmentalist Barry Commoner. He was that party's vice presidential candidate in 1984. In 1981, Richard returned to Rhode Island and soon became a leader of the local Green Party. He first lectured at URI and then began a teaching career at Rhode Island College that spanned 28 years. At RIC he unionized its adjunct faculty. As a professor, Richards themes were not only political science but also social justice — and he practiced what he preached. Wearing his trademark white ponytail and beard, bib overalls, and a red bandana, he led numerous demonstrations against homelessness, hunger, poverty, and war. He served as president of Amos House, the states largest soup kitchen, and on the boards of many social service organizations including the George Wiley Center and the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. At his Cranston home he hosted many successful charitable fundraisers for his various causes and was a leader of the Stone Soup Folk Arts Foundation. Richard died of leukemia on December 27, 2012, and is survived by his son Richard and his daughter Catherine.


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