True gentlemen like Tony Walker, Ralph Waldo will be missed

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2003

They were gentlemen.

Bryan "Tony" Walker and Ralph Waldo died over the past couple of weeks, and with them went a lot of class and dignity.

Tony Walker

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Tony Walker was an avid sports fan who worked at Ashland Oil but also owned Ironton's top men's clothing store, Harmon's.

Tony spent money supporting area high schools and other youth activities because he believed in Ironton and its people. He had the heart of gold, the wisdom of Solomon, and gentleness of a summer breeze.

Although he supported athletics, Tony's biggest concern was education. He preached and preached education to not only his five children, but to others. He served on the school board at St. Joseph and St. Lawrence because he cared about the well-being of others.

That concern for others carried over to his store.

I remember shopping at Harmon's from the time I was a tyke until the day, sadly, it could no longer compete with the national chain stores and was forced to close.

Tony never turned a customer away. He knew families personally. If you couldn't afford to pay for something right away, he forced you to take the merchandise.

"Now, you need to put clothes on those children. You just pay what you can until you pay it off. And if you need anything else, you march right back in here," Tony would say.

I never forgot that. People would tell me, "You can get it cheaper at so-and-so," but I believe in loyalty. Tony Walker and his wonderful wife, Alice, stood by my parents and by me, so there was no way I was going somewhere else regardless of the price.

And Tony Walker was a good, honest, moral, God-fearing man. He and Alice are two of the finest people ever placed on this earth. Anyone who knew Tony Walker had to like and/or respect him.

And if you didn't like him, please be advised not to tell me. He was truly a great gentleman whom I will never forget.

Ralph Waldo

Last week when Ohio State won the national championship, I couldn't help but think about Ralph Waldo.

Although Ralph spent most of his adult life in Columbus running his insurance business, he still loved Ironton and was always a phone call away if you needed his assistance.

Ralph was not only a huge Ohio State fan, he was a member of the university's athletic board. Ralph was good friends with many Buckeye coaches such as Woody Hayes and John Cooper. In fact, Waldo and Cooper went fishing every Friday. Oddly, they never discussed football.

If there was a function in Ironton and an Ohio State coach was needed to be the guest speaker, it was Ralph Waldo who came to the rescue.

That's why the national title left a hollow spot. It would have been so wonderful for Ralph to have lived long enough to see the Buckeyes get their first title since 1968.

Ralph Waldo was another man with tremendous character. He confided in me that he was unhappy that Ohio State continually hired people in high positions who were not true Buckeye fans.

Selling corporate boxes and seats to people who just like college football but didn't necessarily love the Buckeyes grew to be a sore spot. He felt Ohio State was selling out for the money and neglecting the fans and alumni.

He did say that when athletic director Andy Geiger leaves Ohio State, look for Archie Griffin to be the heir apparent.

After he said it, he smiled knowing he had an Ohio State man, and a man who had learned a lot of lessons from Woody.

Hopefully, Ohio State learned a lot of lessons from Ralph Waldo.