Walden Baskerville, 87, died Feb. 11, 2014, at his beloved Ravenwood, his home in Mineral Hill, west of Las Vegas.
The son of a coal miner and his wife, Walden and Lena Baskerville, he was born in a company house of the coal mining camp in Consol, Iowa. The sixth of 11 children he was raised in Waterloo, Iowa. He dropped out of high school to join the Marines, becoming one of the first African Americans to serve in a segregated Marine Corps.
These Montford Point Marines, as they are called, never received the military honors they deserved for their service in World War II
. Recognizing this, Congress recently honored Walden and the other Montford Point Marines by awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
African Americans who served in a segregated military are considered Buffalo Soldiers, the first having served at Fort Union during the days of the Santa Fe Trail, followed by the those serving in the Spanish American War and World War I and II. Walden, therefore, is considered a fourth generation Buffalo Soldier.
Returning to high school after discharge, he became the first in his family to graduate from high school. A fine athlete, he excelled in baseball, basketball and football, becoming quarterback in the late 1940s at William Penn College, the small, predominantly White, Quaker College he attended on the GI Bill. He graduated from William Penn in 1951 and received a M.A. in Guidance and Counseling in 1960 from Western Michigan University. In 1980, he received his doctorate in education in counseling psychology from Western Michigan University.
He worked with youth and in education for 39 years first as a teacher, then as a high school counselor and eventually as a university counselor at Iowa State University and Western Michigan University. He retired from Western Michigan University as an associate professor emeritus in 1993. In addition to his work as a counselor, Walden is also known for his work as an artist and sculptor and served as a volunteer firefighter
with the Cabo Lucero Fire Dept. for many years.
Walden, a loving husband, devoted father and grandfather, is survived by his wife, Lynn Finnegan; his children, Jill Baskerville of Las Vegas, Jodi Baskerville of Los Angeles, Judson (Susan) Baskerville of Kalamazoo, Mich., Jinx Baskerville (Tony Watkins) of Albuquerque and his step-children, Sean Finnegan (Maureen) of Colts Neck, N.J. and Michele Finnegan of Seattle, Wash. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Alyssa Eggert, Sterling Baskerville Crespin (John), Wave-Ananda Baskerville, Amos, Ruby and Satchel Watkins, Skylar Darwen, Andrew, Tommy and Katie Finnegan; his first great-grandchild-on-the-way, Damien Crespin; his sister, Selma Ellis and brother, Charles (Geneva) Baskerville of Waterloo, Iowa; two sisters-in-law, Dorothy Baskerville of Highland Park, Ill., and Elsie Baskerville of Waterloo, Iowa, many nieces, nephews and friends of all ages.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Matthew Cole, Silas, David, and Jack Baskerville; and his sisters, Clarissa Beaman, Fannie Reed, Channie Baskerville and Dorothy Baskerville Elliott.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to William Penn University, Office of Advancement, 201 Trueblood Ave, Oskaloosa, IA 52577 or the Cabo Lucero Volunteer Fire Department, 21 CR A29, Las Vegas, N.M. 87701.
Memorial Services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the sculpture Memorial Watch 911 across from the family home in Mineral Hill. Those wishing to caravan to the memorial may meet between 11:30 a.m. and noon on Sunday at the Holiday Inn Express parking lot at exit 343 and I-25 to depart to the memorial. Directions can also be found online at www.rogersmortuarynm.com.