July 6, 1893–November 25, 1994
BY DONALD J. HAGEDORN
FOR YEARS MANY PROFESSIONAL plant scientists considered John Charles Walker to be one of the world's greatest plant pathologists. Walker earned this reputation because of his high intellect, work ethic, and an unusual ability to scientifically assess plant disease problems and develop methods for their control. These control procedures almost always involved the practical application of his knowledge of and appreciation for related sciences, such as plant genetics, plant physiology, and biochemistry, which greatly benefited the vegetable growers and processors of our nation. They involved pioneering scientific achievements that scientists all over the world embraced and tried to emulate. His fundamental discoveries of plant disease resistance made a lasting impact on world agriculture.
John Charles Walker was born on July 6, 1893, in Racine, Wisconsin. His father was a cabbage grower and seedsman. Young Walker attended the rural district school and then Racine High School, graduating in 1909. In 1910 he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, and in 1914 his B.S. thesis on onion smut disease won the university's Science Medal as the most outstanding thesis. For this honor his fellow graduates gave him a rousing cheer at commencement. He