The first time I met John Walter was at a morning networking event for the Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network this past May. It was the first time I had seen a man at one of those meetings, and since I gravitate towards things that stand out and make me think, I headed straight towards him.
Modest as ever, he began answering my questions about his life and what he was doing at this women’s event alluding to USA Today and the Vineyard Gazette, but not really telling me how grand of a man he was. He didn’t have to.
We talked about publishing and his publishing company Vineyard Stories. We dissected the tenets of journalism writing and marketing writing. We marveled about generation gaps and how the internet was transforming the journalistic world. He was eager to hear from me about the goings on of Web 2.0.
I was hooked.
We only stopped talking because the main speaker was about to begin, a friend of his whom he had come to support. And, I was thrilled to hear from him and his wife a few weeks later when they were looking for someone to work with their authors to use blogging and online social networking as a marketing tool.
I will remember John’s bemused laughter as he watched me get incredibly excited about their blogging potential. I will remember feeling that he was the kind of guy that rolled with the punches and was open to the changes ahead – for his business and for his industry. I will remember his ever-present kindness.
It is shocking to lose someone so vibrant – so quickly. I am honored to have known him and to have shared this world with him, if only for a short time. He was a brilliant journalist with a blockbuster resume that includes:
- Thirty years’ experience in daily and weekly journalism
- Founding editor of USA Today
- Executive editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Editor and publisher of the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette
- Editor, Dukes County Intelligencer, Martha’s Vineyard Museum
- Co-editor and publisher of Vineyard Stories
To honor and celebrate John’s life, a fund has been established in his name to support enrichment opportunities for creative arts students (including the journalism department) at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Donations can be mailed to: John W. Walter Fund, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, PO Box 1069 , Edgartown, MA 02539.
A memorial celebration will be held at noon, October 4th on Martha’s Vineyard. For travel information and details, please visit www.vineyardstories.com.
John – thank you for all that you gave to this world, you will be remembered and you will be missed.