Paul Walden, radio beacon and former legislator, dies at 85

Two memorials are planned this week to honor Oregon radio broadcaster and radio station owner Paul E. Walden, who served three terms in the Oregon State House of Representatives in the 1970s.

Walden died March 28 at age 85.

A memorial service is planned at 3 p.m. for today at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hood River, where he was a longtime member. Walden’s son is U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of Hood River.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., the residents of Providence Brookside Manor will dedicate a flag pole in Walden’s memory. The event is open to the public.

“It’s sad he can’t be there in person but he will be there in spirit,” Greg Walden said. “It was a project that meant a lot to him. He was a real patriot who loved our country and our way of life.”

Walden had lived at Brookside Manor since it opened in late 2000. Last fall, Greg Walden brought him a flag that had hung over the Capitol to fly at Brookside Manor. But there was no flagpole.

So, the residents set to work raising money to buy and install one so the flag could fly. Resident Margaret Boytz made an afghan that was raffled, and residents and their families donated cash. Major donors were Scott and Jane Kelly, Mac McNerney and Paul Walden himself, said Tonya DeHart, Brookside activities director. Her husband, Tony DeHart of DeHart Excavation, donated his services along with Pacific Power, Hood River Sand and Gravel, and Brookside maintenance director Don Wanzek.

Even before Walden’s death, the residents had unanimously agreed to dedicate it to Paul’s life of government and community service.

“I know it meant a lot to our guys to have a flag out,” Tonya DeHart said. “They’d say, ‘We need a flag.’ The neat thing was that they wanted it placed so the people in Alzheimer’s unit could see it, not just them.” She said the flagpole effort was carried out by “our Brookside family” — residents along with relatives and friends.

Paul’s family will be present Saturday, along with a group of Boy Scouts including Brookside resident Nick Kirby, a long-time friend of Walden’s — and the county’s oldest Boy Scout.

“We’re inviting everyone who contributed to the flagpole fund and everyone in the community,” said Barbara Young, community relations director for Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, which operates Brookside.

“Paul had made a home for himself at Brookside,” Young said. “It was wonderful for him and everyone there. Everybody loved him and everyone will miss him.”

Paul Walden spent 48 years in radio broadcasting, working as an engineer and station manager at radio stations in Walla Walla, LaGrande and Pendleton. He worked at KODL radio in The Dalles for 27 years before purchasing KIHR radio in Hood River in 1967. He served twice as president of the Oregon Association of Broadcasters.

Walden, the descendant of Oregon pioneers, was born on a wheat ranch near Prescott, Wash., on May 7, 1917, to Ernest Edmund and Nellie Angeline Purdy Walden, grew up in Milton-Freewater and graduated from Mac-High in 1935. (Please turn to page A5 for a full obituary.)

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