One of the Santa Clarita Valley’s founding families lost a member this month with the death of Frank R. Walker at the age of 90.
Frank R. Walker was one of 12 children born to Frank E. Walker and Hortence V. Reynier Walker on Placerita Canyon property secured by the senior Walker in a mining claim in the early 1900s.
“We had a lot of fun running around the place there,” brother Richard Walker recalled of growing up on what is now the Placerita Canyon Nature Center and Natural Area park in Newhall.
“We didn’t have toys — nothing like that,” Richard Walker said in a telephone interview from his Chico home Wednesday. “We made everything.”
One of the Walker youngsters’ pastimes was lining up with one group behind the “lower” cabin and one in front, then tossing a ball back and forth between them, he said.
The Walkers’ “lower” cabin can be seen today on the Placerita Canyon Natural Area property.
During the summer, he recalled, the family moved up the canyon to a home near what is now called the Walker Ranch area of the canyon.
Both homes had natural gas-powered lights and stoves thanks to a gas mine behind the cabin, Richard and Frank’s son, Bob, both said.
But there was no indoor plumbing, Rickard Walker noted.
The family moved down the canyon during the winter because the roads were impassable during the rainy season.
Although they owned shoes, the seven boys in the Walker family preferred to go barefoot and did so both during the summer and during colder times, Richard Walker said.
They walked down the canyon to catch a school bus to Newhall Elementary School each day, he said, sticking to the sides of the sometimes-frost-covered road because that’s where the softer grass could be found for their bare feet.
Over the years the family “lived off the land,” as Bob Walker said, mining for gold and running a successful clay mine, then trucking the clay to Los Angeles to be made into roofing supplies.
They also rented out property for location shooting of Western movies and TV shows.
“There was one episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ where they actually used that old cabin asa hideout,” Bob Walker said of the remaining Walker cabin. The upper-canyon Walker home no longer exists.
“Disney owned the property adjacent, and it’s my understanding that Walt Disney talked to my grandfather and tried to buy it. He turned it down, said he’d rather see it become a park.”
Frank Walker was inducted into the Army in 1943 and assigned to the 273rd Field Artillery Battalion deployed to Liverpool, England.
His artillery battalion arrived in Normandy, France, on Aug. 27, 1944 and fought with General George Patton’s Third Army. They joined in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
Frank Walker returned to the States after the war, meeting and eventually marrying Jackie Peckels in 1946. The couple moved to Sand Canyon and built four homes on property in the Ravenhill Road area of the canyon, just off Placerita Canyon Road.
After that they moved to Oregon and bought a motel and cafe in Chiloquin.
Frank and Jackie Walker moved to a home built for them by son Bob and daughter-in-law Carrie about three years ago, Bob Walker said.
His dad delighted in playing with the family dogs at the ranch near Ojai where the couple grows avocados, he said.
Frank Walker died from natural causes Oct. 18. A memorial service was held Monday.
He is survived by his brother Richard Walker his sister Melba Fisher, his wife, Jackie, his children Teri, Lori and Bob, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Obituary from SignalSCV.com