Lou Jeanne Bray ’60 Walton, former professor and chair of social work, passed away Feb. 28, 2021, in Gary, Indiana.
Professor Walton earned her bachelor’s in social work from Valparaiso University and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She was one of the first Black students at Valpo and the first Black woman to receive tenure from Valparaiso University. She served as professor and chair of social work for nearly 35 years.
Affectionately known as “Boots,” Professor Walton was part of the University’s traveling modern dance group and participated in the “Miss Valparaiso” competition. As a faculty member, she served as an advisor to the Black Student Organization and a member of the Advisory Council on Multiracial Concerns. She also volunteered for local nonprofits such as Brother’s Keepers, the Open Housing Commission of Gary, Prisoners and Communities Together, and the Lutheran Human Relations Association, and she served as a member of her neighborhood “Block Club,” which analyzed housing regulations, city services, and beautification of the urban community.
Professor Walton received the O.P. Kretzmann Research Award in 1986, which was established in 1976 by the Wheat Ridge Foundation, now known as We Raise Ministries, for research in the healing arts and sciences. Through the grant, she was able to partner with urban church ministries to determine possible coordination of youth education programs with troubled young people.
Following her retirement in 2005, Professor Walton stayed connected with her alma mater and continued to advocate for community improvement in her home of Gary, Indiana. In 2018, she was honored during Valparaiso University’s annual MLK Celebration. The University established the Lou Jeanne Walton Scholars program for underrepresented students to ensure the legacy of her leadership and service will endure in perpetuity.