East Tennessee State University, Johnson City and the entire region mourns the loss of legendary track coach Dave Walker, who died at age 82 on Saturday. He was an amazing ambassador for our community and a man whose charm and many talents will be greatly missed.
He was a mentor and good friend to the athletes who were lucky enough to know him during the five decades he coached distance running at ETSU. Walker was able to get the best out of the people he coached, which have included Olympians, world record-holders, NCAA champions and major-event marathoners.
Some of the athletes he recruited to ETSU came from distant parts of the globe, including the famed “Irish Brigade.” This particular group of athletes included the best distance runners from Ireland. Walker used the terrain of our region to both lure them here and to train them when they arrived.
It’s not surprising that some of those runners, as well as recruits from all over the world, decided to remain in our area after graduation. More than a few of Walker’s recruits have stuck around and have left their marks on our community. We will always be grateful to Coach Walker for making that happen.
And as ETSU’s former athletic director Dave Mullins told Press staff writer Tony Casey in a story that appeared in Sunday’s paper, Walker’s death was “a sad day for those of us who knew and loved him, but his legend lives on.”