Examining the Life of Former Korean Ambassador Richard Walker
Walker, a Drew alumnus, served from 1981-86.
June 2017 – A Drew University exhibit on Richard Walker, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and a Drew alumnus, features everything from the briefing book he prepared for Vice President George H.W. Bush to a university tuition bill for the 1942-43 school year—$781, including room and board!
Walker, who served as ambassador from 1981 to 1986, graduated from Drew in 1944 with a bachelor’s in history and political science. The exhibit, displayed at both the school’s United Methodist Archives and History Center and Rose Memorial Library, includes some 150 artifacts, including letters, photos, mementos and books.
The Ambassador’s Life: Richard “Dixie” Walker in South Korea chronicles Walker’s entire life and closely examines his five years as a diplomat.
“You see a personal touch during an important period of geo-political history involving U.S.-Korean relations,” said curator Brian Shetler, the head of special collections at the United Methodist Archives and a PhD student at Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Shelter developed the exhibit with help from another Caspersen, Anthony Calandrillo, who’s pursuing a doctor of letters.
As an accomplished alum, Walker is an ideal figure for examination. What’s more, the Drew Theological School has longstanding ties to Korea. An 1885 graduate of the school, Henry Appenzeller, became a missionary and founded the first Methodist church in South Korea.
The exhibit, which is supported by the Richard L. Walker Fund and runs through Aug. 11, illuminates many personal facts about Walker, who was born in 1922 and died in 2003. Here are the four most interesting ones.
Walker was the longest serving Korean ambassador. Also, the early to mid-80s was a turbulent period that included the Soviet shoot-down of a Korean airliner, the murder of South Korean cabinet ministers, student uprisings and assassination threats to the ambassador.
He was a busy undergraduate. Walker belonged to two honor societies, played violin in the orchestra, helped establish the fencing team and worked as manager of the baseball team, where he gained the nickname Dixie that stuck.
He was a veteran of World War II. Walker enlisted in the Army the year before he earned his BA. After serving, he attended Yale, where he received a PhD in international relations. He later taught at the University of South Carolina.
Walker was multilingual. Beyond his native English, he was fluent in Chinese and Korean.