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Richard Walton (May 24, 1928 – December 27, 2012) was an American writer, teacher, and politician.[1] He was the vice-presidential nominee in 1984 of the short-lived Citizens Party; Sonia Johnson was the party's presidential nominee that year.

Richard J. Walton
BornMay 24, 1928[1]
DiedDecember 27, 2012[2]
NationalityUnited States
EducationClassical High School, Providence, RI (1945)[1]

Brown University, Providence, RI (B.A. 1951)[1]

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York, NY (M.A. 1954)[1]
OccupationJournalist, College Professor
Known forProgressive activism against poverty, homelessness, and hunger
Spouse(s)Margaret Hilton (divorced)[1] Mary Una Jones (divorced)[1]
ChildrenRichard (1958)[1] Catherine (1960)[1]

Personal life and educationEdit

Richard John Walton was born on May 24, 1928 in Saratoga Springs, New York, to Gertrude and Richard James Walton. As a child he moved with his family to Providence, Rhode Island, where he was graduated from Classical High School in 1945 and received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1951. His studies at Brown were interrupted for two years while he served in the U.S. Navy as a journalist's mate. He worked as a disc jockey on Providence radio station WICE before attending the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism where he received a master's degree in 1954.[1]

He was married twice, once to Margaret Hilton and subsequently to Mary Una Jones; both marriages ended in divorce.[1] He has two children, Richard (born 1958) and Catherine (born 1960).[1] He returned to reside in his home state of Rhode Island since 1981.[1]

Walton died at age 84 of leukemia on December 27, 2012, at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI.[2]

Journalistic careerEdit

As a print journalist, he worked for The Providence Journal (1954-1955) and then for the New York World-Telegram and The New York Sun (1955-1959). He then returned to radio for the Voice of America (VOA), first in Washington, D.C. as producer-host of Report to Africa (1959-1962) and then in New York City as principal United Nations correspondent (1962-1967). In 1960, he traveled extensively in Africa making a series of documentaries on the independence movement, interviewing many of the post-colonial leaders including Patrice Lumumba.[1][3]

In 1967 he left VOA to write his first book, The Remnants of Power: The Tragic Last Years of Adlai Stevenson (1968). Eleven other books followed, notably America and the Cold War (1969), The United States and Latin America (1971, ISBN 0-8164-3074-8), Cold War and Counterrevolution: The Foreign Policy of John F. Kennedy (1972, ISBN 0-14-021627-8), Henry Wallace, Harry Truman and the Cold War (1976, ISBN 0-670-36859-8), The Power of Oil (1979, ISBN 0-8164-3186-8), and The United States and the Far East (1979, ISBN 0-395-28931-9). He has contributed articles to numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The New Republic, Saturday Review, Cosmopolitan, and Playboy.[3] He was an early member of the National Book Critics Circle.[1]

Teaching careerEdit

After leaving the VOA in 1967, Walton began teaching writing, political science, and history at Housatonic Community College in Stratford, CT, The New School for Social Research in New York City, and what is now Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT. He traveled to more than 50 countries, including teaching English in an elementary school in Shanghai in the summer of 2007.[1]

For over a quarter of a century until 2012, he taught at Rhode Island College where he was among the leaders of a campaign to unionize adjunct faculty.[1] In an election in April 2007, the adjunct faculty voted by an overwhelming margin to unionize and affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers.[4] He served on the union's negotiating committee, agreeing an initial contract with the college and Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, which was ratified in October 2009.[5] He was elected as the union's first president and served until his death.[1] Rhode Island College lowered its flag to half-staff in his memory.[6] In May 2013, the college honored Walton with the Special Award for Distinguished Service to Alumni, in Memoriam.[7]

Political and community activismEdit

Involved from 1980 with the Citizens Party of environmentalist Barry Commoner, Walton was the party's vice-presidential candidate in 1984 on a ticket headed by feminist Sonia Johnson as the party's presidential candidate.[1][8] (Johnson's running mate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket that year was Emma Wong Mar, however). Walton had been interested in political third parties since at least the publication of his book on the subject, Henry Wallace, Harry Truman and the Cold War. Interviewed in 2008, Walton joked about his 1984 campaign for vice-president, "I don't think I attracted quite as much attention as Sarah Palin."[3]

He went on to become one of the early members of the Green Party of Rhode Island. In the 1996 Presidential election in Rhode Island he was temporarily a stand-in candidate for Ralph Nader's official running mate Winona LaDuke.[9] In the 2004 Presidential election, he endorsed Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb. He served on several national Green bodies.

Walton became well known as an activist against poverty, homelessness, and hunger. He served as president of Amos House,[10] which is the state's largest soup kitchen, and on the boards of a number of non-profit and social service organizations, including the George Wiley Center (advocates for the poor), the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and the Slater Mill Historic Site. With the Providence-Niquinohomo Sister City Project he had been to Nicaragua many times where the project built a health center and a school, and he twice served on medical teams in Guatemala.[1][3]

Every year for his own birthday from 1988 to 2011, Walton hosted a substantial charitable fundraiser at his home that was typically attended by several hundred people, including sitting and former governors, senators, congressional representatives, and media personalities who were in some cases his former students.[10][11][12] The party was held for the first time at another venue in 2012.

Walton has received the Sister Carol McGovern Award of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless for his work with the homeless[1] and the John Kiffney Award of the Providence Newspaper Guild for his service to the community.[13]

Involved with the non-profit folk music venue Stone Soup Coffee House for 30 years, he was the first president of its parent organization, the Stone Soup Folk Arts Foundation, and served for 15 years. After a hiatus of many years, he had been returned to office and was serving as president at the time of his death. In April 2016 Walton was posthumously inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame (RIMHOF).[14]

In 2008 at the age of 80, Walton was profiled and interviewed as part of a major feature article in The Providence Phoenix about prominent people in Rhode Island.[3]

In 2018 an e-book of selected correspondence by Walton was edited by Herbert Weiss & Nancy Carriuolo and published to commemorate Walton's life and activism.[15]

Preceded by
La Donna Harris
Citizens Party vice presidential candidate
Succeeded by


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Walton, Richard J. "Richard J. Walton: From the Author".
  2. ^ a b c Ziner, Karen Lee (December 28, 2012). "Rhode Island fixture Richard J. Walton dies at age 84". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-28. Walton's daughter, Cathy Barnard of Simsbury, Ct., said Walton died Thursday of leukemia at Rhode Island Hospital.
  3. ^ a b c d e "30 on 30: Richard Walton". The Providence Phoenix. October 24, 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  4. ^ Jordan, Jennifer D. (October 19, 2007). "URI, RIC part-time faculty vote to join teaching union". The Providence Journal.
  5. ^ "Rhode Island College adjunct faculty ratify 3-year agreement". The Providence Journal. October 10, 2009. Richard Walton, who was active in the union organizing drive and who served on the union's negotiating team, has taught as an adjunct faculty member at RIC for 25 years.
  6. ^ "Rhode Island College Salutes Richard Walton, Beloved Adjunct Professor and President of the Adjunct Faculty Union". December 28, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-30. College President Nancy Carriuolo has asked that the college flag be flown at half-mast in his memory. 'Richard loved our college, the students and his colleagues,' Carriuolo said. 'He will be missed greatly by our campus community as well as by many others in RI who benefited from his knowledge, concern, and generosity.'
  7. ^ "Alumni Awards and Honor Roll Recipients". May 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-06. Richard J. Walton, 1928-2012, was an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island College for 28 years. He also was president of the RIC Adjunct Faculty Union, which he helped found. Walton was an active volunteer and fundraiser for Amos House, the George Wiley Center, Stone Soup Coffee House and the Sister Cities Project between Providence and Niquinohomo, Nicaragua.
  8. ^ James, Barron (1984-08-12). "Feminist Seeks Presidency for Citizens Party". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-17. Sonia Johnson... was nominated today as the Presidential candidate of the Citizens Party.... Delegates to the party's three-day convention, which opened Friday night at Hamline College, formally nominated Mrs. Johnson this afternoon after approving her running mate, Richard J. Walton.
  9. ^ Martin, Linda (2000). "Driving Mr. Nader: The Greens Grow Up".
  10. ^ a b "Amos House - Who We Are, Our Stories: Richard Walton". Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  11. ^ Philippe and Jorge (May 13, 2009). "Old fart at play: Richard Walton's birthday bash..." The Providence Phoenix. Retrieved 2012-12-28. Richard Walton, our favorite lefty who we bring in from the bullpen in tight situations, is having his 80th birthday party in Pawtuxet (that's Gaspee Plateau in Cranston, for youse Vo Dilun ignoramuses), right next to the river. For details, contact ... But let our old boy explain about his event: 'Ever since they started in 1988, they've probably been the biggest annual social gathering of peaceniks, economic/social justice activists, progressives, liberals, all-round lefties and folkies in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. I'm speaking, modestly of course, about the annual potluck, fund-raising birthday parties of Richard Walton to benefit Amos House and the Providence-Niquinohomo [Nicaragua] Sister City Project. Over the years since my 60th birthday, we've collected about $65,000. It's a pretty good place for a party. Plenty of room for grownups, kids, dogs, Frisbees and last year even a 1920s Model T Ford showed up and gave guests rides around the neighborhood. So not only come, but please help spread the word. It's an INclusive party not an EXclusive one and, quite literally, the more the merrier. Even some conservatives have been known to enjoy themselves but no reactionaries. They wouldn't be seen dead with the likes of us.'
  12. ^ Phillipe and Jorge (June 2, 2010). "Messi situations: A giant tampon for BP; plus, the World Cup, and a big bash in Pawtuxet". The Providence Phoenix. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 20TH ANNUAL WALTON-PALOOZA THIS SUNDAY -- We'll admit that no one has called the annual celebration of Richard Walton's birthday Waltonpalooza; we're just throwing out a trial balloon. But in the pinko/progressive/nonprofit/folksing-in'/protestin'/troublemakin'/peace-and-justice community that P+J like to think of as 'home,' this is always a summer highlight and something no one wants to miss. 'Richard Walton's 60th Birthday Party,' to be celebrated June 6, was first observed in 1988 (so if you want to know how old the cantankerous peacenik is, you do the math). As regulars all know it's held at the Walton Compound at 1 & 5 Grenore Street, just off Narragansett Parkway, on the Warwick side of Pawtuxet. It runs pretty much all afternoon and well into the evening and we guarantee you that the folks who materialize will be a mixture of some of the most interesting people in the Biggest Little (you'll even find the odd political right-winger there as Richard has a broad, colorful, and eclectic group of friends).
  13. ^ Phillipe and Jorge (March 4–10, 2005). "Follies go on cruise control". The Providence Phoenix. Retrieved 2012-12-28. Better yet was the presentation of the annual John Kiffney Award (named after a beloved Journal reporter who passed away in 1987) to Richard Walton. At least three people, when they saw this in their programs, told us, 'You mean Richard hasn't already been recognized?' Walton's credentials include his work as a peace and justice activist, host and prime mover of Stone Soup Coffeehouse, author, teacher, advocate for the homeless and powerless, and a conscience that hangs over many of us in the local progressive community like a big warm sun. Yeah, they gave him the Kiffney Award, and he sure as hell deserves it.
  14. ^ ChrisS. "GoLocalProv | Lifestyle | Herb Weiss: Abate Joins Exclusive Class of Musicians". GoLocalProv. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  15. ^ "E-Book to Memorialize Richard Walton › Providence, Rhode Island › Motif Magazine". Motif. Retrieved 2018-01-23.