Walton, Richard Elwin

2/7/2006

 

RICHARD ELWIN WALTON
November 28, 1912-February 7, 2006
 
 Richard Elwin Walton was a loving husband, devoted father and a Minister of the Gospel. He was born in China, Louisiana (outside of Elton, Louisiana) on November 18, 1912, and died in Port Arthur, Texas, February 7, 2006.     \
  Richard grew up on a rice farm outside Elton, Louisiana. Instead of following his father into the field, he ws called to the ministry. Richard’s undergraduate work began at Blinn Memorial College in Brenham, Texas. He attended Southeast Louisiana State College in Hammond his junior year, then spent a year at home helping with the farming during the height of the depression. He was graduated from Oklahoma City University in May of 1936. From there, he went to Perkins School of Theology and joined the Louisiana Annual Conference to take his first appointment at Bogalusa. In 1943 Richard answered the call of the country for chaplains and went into the U. S. Army. He remained in the Army until the end of the war, having served in North Africa, Corsica, and Italy.
 In 1938, at a camp meeting in Lake Arthur, he met Helen Mittlestaedt from New Orleans, who became the love of his life. They married in September of 1939. This began a lifelong partnership, especially in his ministry, with Helen serving at times as his secretary, organist, or both. While serving the church in Sterlington, Richard Jr. and Anna (Bitsy) were born. Christie was born ten years after Anna during Richard’s appointment in Opelousas. Richard, or Dickie as his fellow ministers knew him, served churches in Rayville, Winnfield and Pineville before being appointed as the Administrator for the Methodist Home in New Orleans. He took on the challenge of transforming it from a home for unwed mothers to an emergency placement facility for abused and neglected children.
 Richard Walton was truly a shepherd to his flock. He is best remembered by congregations for the way he nurtured and cared for people. Whether he was the camp with his buddies hunting deer, preaching on Sunday morning, visiting someone in the hospital or drinking coffee with friends, he was living and sharing the word of God. He was called “Preacher” by most members of the communities in which he lived, regardless of their religious affiliation.
 He retired in 1979 in order to return to Elton to care for his elderly father. During his retirement he served as pastor for a number of churches in the Elton area when there was a need. In 1995 Richard suffered significant loss of eyesight. He and Helen moved to Nederland, Texas to be close to their daughter Anna and her family. When Helen died in 1997 it was a loss with an impact as profound as the loss of his sight. In 1999 Richard moved into Hotel Beaumont, an assisted living facility. He was very happy there and continued his ministry by saying grace at every meal and having the opening prayer at the hotel functions. He was affectionately known as the “resident preacher” by the staff and residents.
 We have such wonderful memories of growing up with Richard as our father. He was never too busy to help with some project we had going or to take us someplace we wanted to go, or especially to just sit and talk. He had a wonderful way of guiding us without demanding how we were to go. He gave us the “tools” we would need to make decisions for ourselves. Most importantly, he gave us the space to fail but was always there to catch us. Richard had a love for the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. His favorite sport was deer hunting. He never hunted anything he didn’t cook—and he.was quite the expert at preparing wild game. Crabbing was also one of his favorite summer activities. We have such fond memories of going crabbing and bringing them home for a crab boil with family and friends. One of our family vacations was made to Grand Isle with a couple of other families. During the week we spent there Dad ate nothing but crabs, shrimp and homemade ice cream. His grandchildren nicknamed him “Bayou Bob” because of their experiences with him on crabbing trips.
  Now we celebrate the long and fruitful life or Richard Elwin Walton, loving husband, devoted father, and minister of the Gospel.
 
Source: Louisiana Conference Journal, 2006; p. 256                          Christi Walton