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May 20, 2019  |  

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Frederick E. Walker


Published Dec. 06, 2018

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Frederick E. Walker of Guilford passed away on Dec. 1 surrounded by his loving family. Mr. Walker leaves behind his beloved wife of 66 years, Catharine Sullivan Walker. He was the devoted father of Catharine “Kim” (Torbjorn) Bergstrom of Sweden and Malta; Elizabeth “Beth” (Edward) Phillips of Marlton, New Jersey; and Frederick Christopher (Candace) Walker of Madison. He was the grandfather of the late Per Christopher Bergstrom, Frederick Timothy Bergstrom, Anne-Sophie Larsson (Torbjorn), Edward Phillips (Tara), Hope Phillips, Christopher Walker, Jr., Blake Walker (Stephanie), Taylor Walker (Rebecca), Spencer Walker, and Chase Walker. He was great-grandfather to Norabelle, Celine, Hugo, and Maisie.

Frederick (“Fred”) was born May 31, 1931, to the Rev. Elmer and Adele Decker Walker. An early passion for theater and radio had him setting up a makeshift radio station in the attic of the family parsonage. At 14 he was walking the dogs for the local “Summer Stock” actors and actresses to be as close as possible to the stage. He soon was performing in such productions as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and as a teenager he was “The Night Owl” on the local radio station. Fred went on to spend his entire professional career in broadcasting.

Mr. Walker began his television career with Westinghouse Broadcasting, Channel 3 in Philadelphia. Initially in public relations and promotions, Mr. Walker was soon appointed Group W sales manager in Cleveland, followed in 1961 by appointment as general manager of KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh. Several general manager positions followed: Channel 3 TV in Cleveland, Channel 3 TV in Philadelphia (again), and Channel 5 in San Francisco. During this time in his career his young wife crisscrossed the country several times in the family station wagon loaded with children and family pets.

From 1967 to 1969, as vice president and general manager of Channel 5 TV in Cincinnati for AVCO Corporation, Mr. Walker was responsible for the operation of the AVCO TV Network, a regional network that reached four major cities and originated several new concepts in programming, including the Phil Donahue Show. In 1969, Mr. Walker became chief operating officer of Broad Street Communications Corp. and in 1971 relocated to New Haven as the president of Broad Street’s broadcast and cable operations. In addition to local Connecticut AM radio station WELI and FM sister station WKSS, Mr. Walker and his partners went on to acquire radio groups in Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Miami, and later an NBC television station KWQC in Davenport, Iowa.

Mr. Walker served on many industry boards, including chair of the Industry Ratings Committee of Radio and Broadcasting (RAB), and on the board of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). In addition he served for more than 20 years on the Board of “Call For Action,” the Washington, DC-based consumer advocate group. He was chairman of that board from 1990 to 1999. He served on the Board of Long Wharf Theater from 1986 to 2018 and was chair of the board from 1990 to 1997. He served for twelve years (1972 to 1984) on the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public Radio/TV. In addition Mr. Walker was an associate fellow at Berkeley College—YALE University on an appointment through 2006.

Although a busy executive, Mr. Walker was first and foremost a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was a very active parishioner at United Church on the Green in New Haven. He served in many roles, including moderator of the church. He loved vacationing with his family at the Jersey Shore. All of his children and grandchildren were introduced to the theater and Broadway at an early age and sometimes before they could sit still! He loved to travel to Europe with his wife Catharine and to visit his daughter and her Swedish family. He will be missed by a large family and many, many, many friends.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to The United Church on the Green in New Haven, Long Wharf Theater of New Haven, or The Connecticut Hospice. A memorial service will be held at The United Church on the Green, New Haven Dec. 7 at 11:00. To sign the online guestbook, please visit

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