‘They just don’t make them like Don Walden anymore’
Donald D. Walden, Sr., 86, a Troy Township trustee for 38 years, lifetime Joliet resident, and who will be remembered for supporting veterans causes, died May 20.
Walden was a United States Navy veteran who served during the Korean War and maintained active membership with the American Legion Post 1080.
Walden retired from Illinois Bell (Ameritech) after 37 years of service, and he went on to volunteer for many local causes and held membership in various clubs and organizations, including the Veterans Assistance Commission, City of Joliet Planning Commission and the board of Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.
“His service to our veterans, service to our community—he was a Troy Township trustee—you couldn’t turn a corner without seeing Don Walden,” said Brian Dames, funeral director at Fred C. Dames Funeral Home & Crematory.
Dames remembers the many years Walden had served as one of his volunteers.
“He would help veterans not having membership to a post and couldn’t receive honors,” he said.
Troy Township Supervisor Joe Baltz recognizes Walden’s commitment to the people, and said it’s a sad loss.
“Late 2016, we became aware of his battle [with cancer,]” he said. “He fought until the end like a good veteran. He wasn’t going to let it beat him.”
Baltz said Walden was of great help to the board.
“He always made effort to be at meetings,” he said. “He was involved in the April election, and he was proud to be elected. He was starting his 38th year.”
Last year, Walden was voted and awarded the title of Trustee of the Year by the Township Officials of Illinois.
Baltz said that’s a huge honor considering there are 1,300 townships in Illinois.
Dames said he hopes Walden is remembered for his contributions to the community.
“It was his ambition to help any veteran with honors he could,” he said. “That was Don Walden.”
Baltz agreed, and went on to say that Walden will be missed.
“Troy has lost a great person,” he said. “I could count on him to do his homework. I will miss him. I’ve been supervisor as long as he’s served. I could count on him to work for the people. [I have] a lot of fond memories."
Dames lived in the same neighborhood as the Waldens and recalled the last time Don was witnessed in a parade as a member of the Legion Band Color Guard.
Dames noted that Walden was a regular sight in the processions and said “as sick as he was, he came out and made the trek.”
Dames wanted to share some words of comfort with the Waldens.
“He left his kids a legacy,” he said. “He knows they will carry that. They’re proud. They just don’t make them like Don Walden anymore.”
Walden is survived by his wife, Carol Walden; his children, Brian (Lisa) and Don (Dena); and his two grandchildren Tyler and Colin Walden.