Ray Walker, Penn State’s oldest alumnus, passed away this morning in his home at age 105 — or “living his 106th year,” as I’m sure he’d prefer to put it.
Walker graduated from Penn State in 1935 with a degree in business, which he actively practiced during his time at school to be able to not only fund his education but also send money home to his family during the Great Depression. He continued this entrepreneurial spirit immediately after graduation — after starting his own company (Bradford Coal Company) the year he graduated, the university became one of his first clients.
Despite all of his working while at school, Walker was an incredibly well-rounded student, keeping his plate full as a member of the campus symphony, the ROTC band, a photo manager for La Vie, and as a brother of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He remained involved with the fraternity long after he graduated, helping the brothers raise money via various events and even hosting them at his home for parties.
Penn State also remained a significant part of Walker’s life, as he donated significant time and money to the university in various capacities. Consequently, he was named a Distinguished Penn State Alumnus by the Alumni Association in 1996.
When we talked to Walker in 2014 he didn’t show any signs of slowing down. His legacy will live on through his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren as well as countless generations of Penn Staters.
“My advice to current Penn Staters is to work 48 hours a day, eight days a week,” Ray said in 2014. “That’s what I did!”