Harry Thomas Walker Jr., a retired Howard County public school educator who had served in the Peace Corps during the 1960s, died Saturday of heart failure at the Heartlands senior community in Ellicott City.
The Roland Park resident was 66.
Dr. Walker, the son of librarians, was born in Champaign, Ill., and moved with his family to Columbia, S.C. In the mid-1950s, the family moved to Lochearn.
He became an accomplished clarinetist and saxophonist, and while attending Milford Mill High School, played with the Del Vinos, a rock group.
Dr. Walker left high school his junior year and enrolled at the University of South Carolina, where his grandmother had been dean of women for 25 years.
His sophomore year, he transferred to the Johns Hopkins University where he earned a degree in English in 1965.
After college, he entered the Peace Corps, where he served as an English teacher in Ethiopia for two years.
"He treated his two years there as a great adventure, hiking to majestic waterfalls, eating the spiciest food he had ever tasted and watching local children battle poisonous mambas," said his son, Childs Walker, a Baltimore Sun reporter who lives in Ellicott City.
"For the rest of his life, he decorated his home with the paintings and artifacts he obtained in Ethiopia. He also liked to surprise waiters at Ethiopian restaurants by breaking into fluent Amharic," his son said.
Dr. Walker worked as a research assistant for Dr. John Money, the controversial Johns Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist who was known for his research on sexual and gender identity.
While working with Dr. Money, Dr. Walker earned a master's degree and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Maryland.
He then worked as a librarian and media specialist for Montgomery County public schools before taking a similar position in 1976 in Howard County.
At the time of his 2001 retirement, Dr. Walker was director of curriculum, and while working for the school system he had published two magazines, School Library Media Activities Monthly and TEAM, which focused on adolescent education.
Dr. Walker, who lived for years in Poplar Hill, was an avid fan of classical music. He also was a Civil War buff and student of South Carolina history. He was an accomplished gourmet cook.
"After he retired, he traveled extensively, sailing along the coast of Turkey, bartering for antique tapestries in the Andes, receiving treatment for a toothache from a witch doctor in the Amazon jungle," his son said. "He particularly loved ancient cities such as Rome and Jerusalem."
Mr. Walker said his father's philosophy of life was rather simple.
"'Follow your bliss,' he'd say," Mr. Walker said.
His wife of 35 years, the former Cynthia Paul, who was manager and vice president of program administration for CMS Capital Financial Services, died in 2002.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to his son, Dr. Walker is survived by a brother, Fred Walker of Woodbine, and a grandson.