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Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies

ChanteyLass 30 Dec 12 - 02:02 PM
ChanteyLass 30 Dec 12 - 02:04 PM
ChanteyLass 30 Dec 12 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,CynthiaRoseOsorioFlorez 31 Dec 12 - 06:50 PM
GUEST,Marilyn 31 Dec 12 - 11:01 PM
ChanteyLass 01 Jan 13 - 12:14 AM
ChanteyLass 01 Jan 13 - 07:14 PM
ChanteyLass 02 Jan 13 - 10:41 PM
ChanteyLass 03 Jan 13 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,john maclennan 06 Jan 13 - 11:28 PM
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Subject: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 30 Dec 12 - 02:02 PM

On Thursday, December 27, Rhode Island lost one of its brightest lights. I knew Richard Walton as one of Stone Soup Coffeehouse's stalwarts, but I also knew he was much more: an activist for peace and social justice, journalist (including a stint with Voice of America), author, professor, and father of two. I respected him and was always happy to go to after-concert dinners at a local pub (which has one of Richard's own Stone Soup baseball caps hanging on the wall) with him and other Stone Soupers. I was flabbergasted the first time he handed me (and many others) an invitation to his annual birthday party at his home on a cove in Rhode Island. The pot-luck open house party was really a fundraiser for Amos House (a homeless shelter) and Providence's sister city, Niquinohomo, Nicaragua. An amazing variety of people came to those parties, and many of my favorite musicians jammed together, providing music and songs for the rest of us to enjoy. I have not yet seen a real obituary. Saturday's Providence Journal had a front-page article about Richard, but I have not been able to access it online. Here is that newspaper's brief breaking news story from Friday.
This one is from GoLocalProv.
But the best place to read about him is at Wikipedia. (I know, I know, it's Wikipedia, but I think this article is very accurate.)

I often teased Richard about which of us was the first to go to Stone Soup. I think we both went to it soon after it moved to its first church location, but I was in the process of becoming a single parent and for years went rarely while he quickly got involved. I've been told that the first time he came to Stone Soup he was wearing a tuxedo. He'd been at a formal event but having heard of Stone Soup decided he would stop by to see what was going on there. However, he almost always wore bib overalls, a bandana, and a large floppy straw hat as he greeted audience members and, as a frequent host, introduced the performers. I know he also enjoyed jazz which he had listened to in many New York City venues.

For most of his life, Richard was active and full of energy. He chopped firewood and planted a large garden which included many tomato plants. At the end of other parties at his home in the late summer he would often offer bags so that guests could pick what they wanted. He always said that both his parents had lived long lives. He was not someone who routinely saw doctors, but a few years ago he had a painful bout of sciatica. Then, several months ago he realized that his energy was flagging. When he finally saw a doctor, he learned that he had a treatable form of leukemia. However, the treatments took their toll on him, and he was in and out of the hospital. Before I left for a trip last Sunday a mutual friend called to tell me Richard was back in the hospital. I thought the doctors would work out a level of treatment that would halt the progress of the disease without having such adverse side effects, but when I came home on Friday and logged onto Facebook I saw the many tributes mutual friends had posted.

I am looking forward to raising my glass to Richard the next time Stone Soupers gather at that pub.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 30 Dec 12 - 02:04 PM

Oh. I was tempted to put this in as an Obit but thought it might land above the line and then get moved below. But when I think of Richard, I think of music.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 30 Dec 12 - 02:23 PM

Just came across this, published in 2006. It includes more in-depth information about Richard.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: GUEST,CynthiaRoseOsorioFlorez
Date: 31 Dec 12 - 06:50 PM

I post this in honor of Richard Walton - "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding'' - The concert is 39:19 minutes long but you can skip to the marker 34:25 and you will hear this September 26th 2011 rendition of Nick Lowe doing ''What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, love and Understanding'' - At a time when 9/11 was still fresh in everyone's hearts and minds, this song took on a heavy weight. Today when I heard it, with my memories of Richard Walton swimming in my heart and mind, it took on a weighty importance for me again.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: GUEST,Marilyn
Date: 31 Dec 12 - 11:01 PM

Wonderful teacher. He used to say "It's all about the kid!" What more could a student - or parent - ask? Armfuls of daffodils to you professor! Eternal peace.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 01 Jan 13 - 12:14 AM

Here's a blue clicky for Cynthia's link. Nice to hear from you and Marilyn, too.

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 01 Jan 13 - 07:14 PM

I was unable to make a workable blue clicky to Saturday's Providence Journal's front page article about Richard, so I have copied and pasted it below. As you can see, he walked the walk.

Richard Walton, activist, storyteller, teacher, dies at 84

Rhode Islander is remembered for his lifelong passions, commitment to others

Richard J. Walton, a voice of liberal social conscience in Rhode Island and an iconic activist in his trademark white ponytail and beard, bib overalls and red bandana, died Thursday of leukemia. He was 84.

Teacher, author, journalist, raconteur, unionist and a one-time third-party candidate for vice president, Walton had a literate mind and a down-to-earth sensibility. He spent much of his life advocating against homelessness, hunger, poverty and war.

But as sober as those passions were, Walton was a man of humor and simple tastes. As friends recalled Friday, Walton liked nothing better than a good pastrami sandwich, a heaping portion of French fries and a couple of beers.

Walton's deepest passions included Amos House in Providence, a soup kitchen and shelter where for decades he spent weekly overnight shifts engaging the homeless and disaffected, then serving them breakfast on Friday mornings. He also served as Amos House president.

Walton never paid lip service. Rain, snow or heat, he stood vigil, against budget cuts, nuclear weapons, apartheid and U.S. military policies in Central America and the Middle East. He slept out for a week with the homeless in 1989 and wrote an article to draw attention to the cause.

"He had a clockwork commitment to certain expressions of care and love and justice, that nobody I know — nobody in Rhode Island — could match," said Jim Tull, who was Amos House director when Walton first began working there.

His other devotions were to the folk-music venue Stone Soup Coffeehouse, now in Pawtucket, where he served as board president for 20 years and frequent master of ceremonies, and the Providence-Niquinohomo Nicaragua Sister City Project.

Walton traveled often to Nicaragua with others, where they built a school and a health center. Tull, who worked with Walton on a school-building brigade, said Walton's white hair and beard led to the moniker "El Viejo" ("the Elder"). He recalled Walton hauling clay and running the cement mixer.

For 11 years between 1980 and 1991, Walton showed up to every weekly Friday peace vigil in front of the downtown Federal Building, unless he was out of the country.

Folksinger Joyce Katzberg, one of Stone Soup's founders and an equally passionate peace advocate, said Walton "was one of my favorite people to go demonstrate with."

"He was not a yeller, not a screamer. He was methodical and patient. He gave most of his life to the cause," Katzberg said. "Some people fight with fists and guns. Richard Walton fought with words and intelligence, and we are better off for it."

Walton's legendary annual June fundraiser birthday parties — referred to by some as "the progressive movement's picnic" — drew hundreds of friends, musicians, politicians and more, to his Pawtuxet Village home overlooking Narragansett Bay. Over the years, those parties raised tens of thousands of dollars for Amos House and the Nicaragua Sister City Project.

"His life was just amazing," said Bill Harley, singer and storyteller and co-founder of Stone Soup, who also worked shifts at Amos House with Walton. "He loved to tell stories," Harley said, among them, how a news outlet "wanted him to cut his beard and hair, and he wouldn't."

Walton was an early member of the Green Party in Rhode Island. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said one of his fond memories was Walton's famous 1984 bid for vice president on the Citizens Party ticket with Sonia Johnson.

"He assumed that as a Republican official I would not sign his nomination papers. So when I volunteered to sign them, he was amazed and that cemented an already good friendship," Avedisian said in an e-mail. "Our little Pawtuxet Village is a bit darker tonight due to this loss."

Born in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Walton came to Rhode Island as a child and was raised in South Providence. He was a Brown University undergraduate and earned his master's degree at Columbia University in 1954.

Walton began his journalism career as a disk jockey at a Providence radio station WICE.

He worked for one year — 1954 — at The Providence Journal. He liked to say he fell asleep at the paper's Westerly bureau during Hurricane Carol. He missed deadline.

Walton worked at the New York World Telegram; the New York Sun and the Voice of America Radio in Washing-ton. He was a reporter and writer at the VOA, specializing in news of interest to Africa and, for six years, a United Nations correspondent.

He wrote his first of 12 books in 1967, about failed Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson: nearly all his books involved foreign policy.

He returned to Rhode Island in 1981 after 26 years away, anchoring himself in the peace and justice movement. He also taught at the University of Rhode Island and at Rhode Island College.

Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr said Friday, "I've always said Richard is the guy I wanna be when I grow up. He was a newspaper guy and a teacher, and a man who understood the horrible price paid for the cruel follies of politicians. I can't believe I'll never sit across from him again at Murphy's as he worked on a pastrami sandwich."

Kerr added, "He was a delightful man. Richard had style. He loved a life filled with caring, working for the poor and railing against injustice. We've all been enriched by knowing him."

Walton's last words were true to his storied life.

"I'm going on a great adventure," Walton said, according to daughter Cathy Bar-nard.

She said a memorial service will be held in the future.

(401) 277-7375

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Subject: RE: BS: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 02 Jan 13 - 10:41 PM

Here's the article about Richard that was printed in the Providence Phoenix, an alternative newspaper.

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Subject: RE: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 03 Jan 13 - 09:45 PM

And another article updated from the one written in 2006. I would like to clarify the information about Richard and the formation of a union at Rhode Island College. I believe the faculty there has been unionized for many years. What Richard did was found the union for adjunct faculty, negotiate its contract, and serve as president until poor health forced him to resign.

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Subject: RE: Stone Soup's Richard Walton, 84, dies
From: GUEST,john maclennan
Date: 06 Jan 13 - 11:28 PM

in my many Friday morning conversations I had with Richard after serving breakfast at Amos House, one of the things he seemed most proud of was his biography of Henry Wallace. While I have yet to read the book, I do intend to do so, and am intrigued by the review of the book:

Richard, you were a true Progressive, and may we see more like you, if that is possible, in our future.

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