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Rodney "Rod" G. Walker

Rodney Rodney Garth Walker, 81, died on Monday, December 31, 2018 in Manhattan, Kansas. He was born December 28, 1937 in McCook, Nebraska, the son of Joseph H. and Bessie I. (Tjaden) Walker.

A proud Nebraskan, Rod was named Distinguished Alumnus by The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where he received a bachelor degree in music education in 1959. After completing a master of music degree from Wichita State University in 1961, he accepted his first teaching position at Central High School, Omaha, Nebraska. There, he met and married Nancy (Longworth) Walker and later had two children, Hallie Elizabeth and Anne Elise.

Beginning in 1966, Rod began a tenure of 41 years as Director of Choral Activities at Kansas State University. As a guest conductor, lecturer, and adjudicator, he traveled to 31 American states and to 13 foreign countries. He guest conducted over 420 all-state, university, honor, regional, divisional, and other festival choruses. Rod founded and directed the American Symposium for Choral Music, which hosted world-renowned conductors and composers such as Robert Shaw, John Alldis, and Aaron Copland. From this, he created and directed the Summer Choral Institute for gifted high school singers, now in its 41st year at Kansas State University.

His Kansas State Choir performed nine concert tours on three continents. A 1972 concert tour included seven European countries and in 1980 they appeared in the Soviet Union and Poland. Between 1980 and 1996, the choir performed extensively throughout Europe and Australia and was featured on BBC London Television, Belgrade Radio Television, RTE Television, Ireland, Radio Poland, and the Australian Broadcasting system. His choirs performed across the United States at conventions at both divisional and national levels, and frequently performed throughout the state of Kansas.

In addition to his performance career, Rod was an active editor of choral publications and had many of his pieces selected for collections that bear his name. He proudly served as president of the Southwest Division and Kansas Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, and received awards of recognition from both groups as well as the Kansas Choral Directors Association, The Master Teacher Institute for the Arts, and was named 1989 Kansas Educator of the Year by the Federated Music Clubs of Kansas. The year of his retirement, the Kansas State Senate honored him by passing Senate Resolution No. 1832, recognizing his 41 years of service to the state of Kansas.

Rod is survived by his wife, Marilyn (Baumann) Walker of Manhattan, KS, daughters Hallie Winters of McKinney, TX and Anne (and Steve) Palmer of Kansas City, MO, step-children Gus (and Keri) Kincaid of Leawood, KS, Jessica (and Brian) Phillips of Indianapolis, IN, and grandchildren Natalie and Nathan Winters, Evie Kincaid, Gracie, Gus, and Larkin Phillips.

Services will be held on Friday, January 11 at 10:30 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church located at 612 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, KS with Pastor Ben Deurfeldt presiding.

Memorial contributions may be given to the Rod Walker Scholarship Fund through the Kansas State University Foundation. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

Online condolences may be left for the family through the funeral home website at

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