Richard Walton was a huge presence in our small state for more than a half century. A writer, journalist, teacher and political activist, Walton, of Warwick, was a leader in so many campaigns for peace and social justice that even his friends and fellow activists could barely keep count.
He graduated from Brown University in the 1950s when his well-born classmates went into the upper reaches of banking, law, medicine or joined the Central Intelligence Agency. Richard, naturally, took a much different path. He became a reporter for the Providence Journal and worked in newspapering in New York City during the heyday of print journalism. His tales of long evenings at the Lion’s Head and the White Horse Tavern entertained friends for decades.
With his Santa Claus white beard and trademark red bandana, Walton was a fixture at Rhode Island good causes, whether serving soup at Amos House or protesting the Iraq War outside the federal building in downtown Providence.
Walton was serious about his political activism, but he was never a humorless zealot. Rather he seemed to embrace that imperishable Emma Goldman line: ``If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution.’’
He ran for vice-president on the Citizens Party ticket in 1984 and had an informed opinion on just about everything. Until weeks before his death at age 84 in December, 2012, he taught at Rhode Island College, where he was head of the union representing adjunct professors. He was a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics. And he loved music, especially folk and jazz music.
So it is a wonderful event that Herb Weiss, the Pawtucket economic and cultural affairs czar, and RIC President Nancy Carriuolo are planning for March 23, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the RIC Student Union Ballroom. Carriuolo and Weiss are reading from an e-book they have put together from e-mails Richard Walton wrote to his large circle of friends and acquaintances.
The event is called `Remembering Richard Walton: Song of the Open Road.’ The ProJo’s Bob Kerr said it best: Carriuolo and Weiss are ``keeping Richard Walton in the conversation, sharing his wit and wisdom for anyone with a taste for wit and wisdom.’’
The suggested donation for the event is $10 and all the proceeds will go toward the cost of outfitting a special room at RIC to be dedicated to Walton. The fund-raising goal is $5,000.