Archie Dean Walker Jr. was a grandson
(the youngest son of the youngest son) of industrialist
Walker. In St. Louis Park, he is most known at the
owner of Imported Motors at
4317 Excelsior Blvd. from 1952
to 1960 and West Side Volkswagen from 1960 to 1965. He left
that endeavor in 1965 to build a BMW dealership in Wayzata.
We learn much more about him from his
obituary in the Idaho Statesman:
Statesman staff - Idaho Statesman Edition
Archie Dean Walker, the longtime Idaho resident who founded
the Walker Center in Gooding for the treatment of substance
abuse, died Thursday in Vancouver, Wash., of chronic
autoimmune disease. He was 88. More than 10,000 people are
considered alumni of the Walker Center, which first opened
in 1976 in an abandoned tuberculosis hospital in Gooding.
The center, renamed in the 1980s for its founder, now has
offices in Gooding, Twin Falls and Boise. In 2003, a $5.3
million building in Gooding was dedicated after Walker and
his wife, Amy, donated $1 million and helped to raise the
rest of the money.
It's safe to say that the Walker Center would not exist had
it not been for Archie Walker and his public discussion
about his own battle with alcoholism.
Walker was born March 13, 1920, in Minneapolis, the youngest
of six children. He served as a navigation instructor during
World War II and, after the war, opened Archie Walker
Imported Motors in Minnesota selling Volkswagens.
He married Amy Camp, in 1944, and they raised four children
in Minnesota. By the 1960s, when they sold the business,
they decided to head West.
"Our children had flown the nest, and we always wanted to
ranch," said Amy Walker, chuckling at the thought. "Yes,
there was some cause for pause."
Amy Walker said she thought cattle ranching would be akin to
raising children. You feed them. You clean up after them.
They spent a year finding the perfect spot, deciding in 1972
on nearly 2,400 acres northwest of Bliss, where they lived
for 27 years.
Amy Walker went to cattle school to learn the business, and
used part of the land to plant potatoes. Archie Walker
tackled the farm equipment, learning how to adapt whatever
they had to fit their needs. Amy Walker said her husband was
an avid bird watcher and would spend hours ensuring their
property became a safe haven for a variety of fowl,
including golden eagles, swans and sandhill cranes.
"We would have been married 64 years next month, and I was
never bored for a single day," she said. "He was fun. He was
entertaining. He taught me a lot.
"He focused on habitat for birds on the ranch as much as
trying to support the ranch. I know I told him, 'Honey, why
don't you just put dollar bills on the fields? It would be
In addition to grand views and an abundance of wildlife,
Archie Walker noticed something else about Idaho: Heavy
alcohol abuse and little help for its victims. "He said,
'These people need help,' " Amy Walker said.
Walker, an alcoholic, had completed treatment in 1962 at
Minnesota's famed Hazelden clinic.
"He was drinking heavily, and it crept up on him for 10, 11
years," Amy Walker said. The treatment "worked wonderfully
for him, but when he came to Idaho, it was like going back
Amy Walker described how the couple noticed a sort of
culture of drinking, recounting stories about how it was
common to see people drinking at school events, places
people wouldn't drink today.
So, out of Archie Walker's desire to help others, the Walker
Center was born. The Walkers stayed active with the center
and they donated a portion of their money from selling the
ranch to help build a new facility in Gooding.
Archie Walker never hid his battle against alcoholism and
strongly urged people to speak out about their experiences.
"Alcohol is a shame-based illness, with a strong stigma," he
once said. "We need to put a face on recovery, get away from
the shamed-based approach to the disease and treat it as it
should be treated - with joyful recovery."
Archie Walker is survived by his wife; three children,
Katherine Walker Griffith, Lita Walker West and Stephen
Archie Walker; and 14 grandchildren. A son, Archie Dean
Walker III, died in 1999.