Harriet Walker, 98, died on April 11, 2006, at Arcadia, Calif.
With the help of Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, Harriet is now resting next to her parents at Cloverdale Cemetery in Boise.
Harriet Hortense Walker, or “Aunt Horty” as she was affectionately known, was born at home in Nampa, Idaho, on Aug. 8, 1908, to Kate Share Ward and Henry B. Ward. She lost her hearing at the age of 9 months, the result of scarlet fever and whooping cough.
At age 7, Harriet and her mother boarded a train at Nampa on their way to the Idaho State School for the Deaf and Blind in Gooding, Idaho. Harriet remained at this boarding school until graduating from high school, returning home only for Christmas and a short summer break. Harriet won a full scholarship to attend Gallaudet University for the deaf.
After finishing school, Harriet moved to Atlanta, a small mining town in Idaho, where she met and married Elton Walker. Elton was a hearing man and Harriet lived in the hearing world until his death in 1955.
Harriet was extremely proficient at reading lips and was able to make most people understand her, even though her speech was very impaired. While at school, she had been taught first to use sign language and then read lips.
Harriet and Elton lived in Southern California. After Elton’s death, Harriet went to work for Howard Hughes Aircraft and started sharing an apartment in Santa Anna, Calif., with a dear friend, Verna Chesnicki, also a deaf lady.
Many deaf people were employed at Howard Hughes and social clubs for the deaf abounded in Southern California. Consequently, Harriet reentered the world of the deaf, enjoying both her work and an active social life.
For many years Harriet’s vacation time was spent on world tours with Herb’s Tours. Harriet’s travels took her to nearly all of the countries of Europe, including Russia, Asia, South and Central America, Africa and the South Pacific.
She also visited Canada, Nova Scotia, and most of the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. One of her favorite excursions was a trip through the Panama Canal. Harriet even gave a try at living in Italy with her companion, Armand, but decided the United States was the best place for her.
After retiring from Howard Hughes, Harriet remained in Santa Anna until her eyesight began to fail. She then moved to the California Home for Adult Deaf at Arcadia, Calif.
Survivors include five nieces and nephews, including Jo Butler, and her husband, Chuck Butler of Richland. Harriet delighted the Butlers and their friends with a yearly visit while they lived at Oxbow and also Richland.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters and three brothers.
She will always be remembered for her extreme intelligence, zest for life, unending curiosity, classy appearance, loyalty and love of family and a taste for a good glass of wine. Harriett was completely self-sufficient her entire life.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, May 5, 2006
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor