Roanoke College remembers longtime English professor, Bob Walter

Robert "Bob" Walter made his mark at Roanoke College - literally.

The former English professor was the 26-year editor of the Roanoke Review, a literary journal produced at the College that publishes poetry and short fiction stories from writers across the country.

Walter also was one of the first Roanoke professors to require his students to write papers using computers.

Walter, 75, died on June 9 at his Boones Mill, Va., home.

He came to Roanoke in 1967 as an English instructor, and in 1980, he was promoted to associate professor. Walter taught a variety of English courses at the College, including American literature, the English language, Western and Native American literature, Chaucer, short stories and composition.

In fact, he knew many of the poems that he taught students by heart, such as works by American poet Robert Frost, said Dr. Michael Heller, a professor in Roanoke's English department.

"He loved teaching American literature...and he had great enthusiasm for Western and Native-American literature," Heller said. "Bob cared deeply about the quality of our students' education."

He also found unique ways to illustrate literature.

Dr. Anita Turpin, a professor in Roanoke's English department, recalled a spring day when Walter showed his students and some colleagues how to cast a fly fishing rod on the College's lawn. He was connecting the technique of fly fishing, one of his favorite pastimes, to his class' study of the book, "A River Runs through It," by Norman Maclean.

"None of us could match his effortless grace with the fly rod," Turpin said.  "That same grace characterized all aspects of Bob's life. He was a good man and a good teacher. He will be missed by three decades of students who were devoted to him."

Walter, who had a bachelor's degree in English from American University and a master's degree in English from Indiana University, was a poet and fiction writer himself. Some of his work was published in national journals and other publications.

He retired from Roanoke in 1999.

He also enjoyed golfing and traveling the world, including to Paris, his favorite destination.

Walter is survived by his wife, Carolyn, two children, two step children and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service for Walter will be held on Saturday, June 14 at 2 p.m. in the College's Antrim Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Wise-Walter English Major Endowed Scholarship at Roanoke.