By The Editors / November / December 1999
November 5th, 2007
Don Smith, who died on October 16 at the age of seventy-nine, was a newspaperman. He would probably have blanched had anyone called him a journalist. He worked at the Providence Journal from the time of his discharge from the U.S. Navy - he'd been captain of a transport ship in the Pacific during World War II - until his retirement in 1988.

He then embarked on a career as Mr. Mom, helping his wife, Gina Macris, raise Michael, who is now sixteen, and Jeffrey, now fourteen. In his spare time, he found three years to devote to the board of editors of the Brown Alumni Monthly, (now the Brown Alumni Magazine), including one year as its chairman. He was also a member of the Rhode Island Development Disabilities Council.

Don's brother Henry relates how Don arrived at the Providence Journal. He had worked as a copy editor at the Springfield (Mass.) Republican before the war, but after his discharge Don discovered that the Republican unions were on strike. Henry, then a reporter in Providence, persuaded his brother to join him. Don began work on the Journal copy desk, and perhaps ironically, was a founding member of a union, the Providence Newspaper Guild.

For many years, Don was the lead copy editor on the night desk. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was a managing editor of the Journal, overseeing the production of Page One. After his death, the Journal lauded him as a man "whose colleagues admired him for his competence, and who loved him for his sense of humor and the deft way he handled the sometimes fragile egos in a typically chaotic newsroom." Joel P. Rawson, executive editor of the Journal added, "Don Smith taught a generation of editors their trade."

The many reporters Don guided over the years offered similar praise. Cornelia Dean '69, science editor of the New York Times and a former Journal reporter, spoke for all. "He would let you know if you did something wrong or screwed up," she recalled," but then, after he had talked to you about it, he would say, 'Go and wash your mouth out with gin.'" He was known to occasionally join his advisees at Joe Thorpe's, which for many years was a newspaper watering hole across the street from the Journal.

His wife, Gina, a Journal reporter who covers Providence schools, can be reached at 35 Adams Point Rd., Barrington, R.I. 02806. - John Monaghan '55

Emery R. Walker Jr., who led the Brown admission office through the bustling post-war years, died at his home June 22. He was eighty-one, lived in Claremont, Calif., and, at the time of his retirement, had served longer as an admission officer than any other person in the nation.

He personally admitted more than 25,000 students to college during his forty-year career, which started at Brown in 1942 and ended when he retired in 1982 as dean of admissions and financial aid at Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd colleges in California.

At Brown, he called himself a "peddler" whose product was a Brown education. He was appointed dean of admission in 1946, shortly after World War II veterans started pouring in to universities nationwide. "We thought we had headaches during the war," Walker recalled in the November/December 1945 BAM. "At one time last summer I had the responsibility for admissions, scholarships, student employment, student loans, placement, housing, and social discipline. Also I was teaching a section of English." Life was even busier after the war, when Walker was meeting with an average of eight veterans a day and reading letters from many more. Though some universities were so swamped that they closed their doors in midsummer of 1945, he wrote, "we felt an obligation to the veterans."

"Mr. Brown" is how the Brown Daily Herald referred to Walker upon his resignation in 1957. "With personal integrity and charm," the editorial stated, "his salesmanship convinced thousands of prospective Brown students that that was the only university in which to seek higher education...We have felt the improvement in the quality of our freshman classes, and we know that much of this improvement can be attributed to Walker."

Walker was the first full-time admission officer at Claremont McKenna and the third administrative appointee at Harvey Mudd. Under his leadership, Claremont McKenna admitted the first class of women in 1975 and saw its student body grow from 350 to more than 800.

Walker was a former College Board trustee and executive committee member, as well as former president and executive board member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors. In 1979 both organizations gave him their highest awards for service. Walker was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Brown. He is survived by a daughter, Dale, 648 Akoakoa St., Kailua, Hawaii 96734; and a son, Emery III. - Emily Gold

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November / December 1999