A retired US Air Force pilot with BA and MA degrees from Texas Tech and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, Walt taught English at the US Air Force Academy for two tours of duty, served in Vietnam, and returned for a third tour at the Academy as Tenured Associate Professor until his retirement. He then taught for three decades at Texas Tech and retired from Tech as Paul W. Horn Professor of English, Emeritus. Giving church talks on God’s grace and love was his favorite work. A long-time member of the Broadway Church of Christ, Walt cherished those friends and hundreds in other churches.
After Vietnam, Walt wrote poetry for thirty years, and the Texas Senate and House selected him as the Texas State Poet Laureate in 2001. Publishers of his 23 books of poetry and a book of short stories included Harper & Row (now Harper Collins) and university presses such as Abilene Christian, Massachusetts, North Texas, Norte Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburg, Texas Christian, and Texas Tech. More than 2,300 of his poems were published in journals including dozens that he most admired, such as The Atlantic Monthly; JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association); London Review of Books (UK); New York Review of Books; and Poetry.
In 1987, Walt was appointed as a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor, Texas Tech’s highest academic honor, named in memory of Tech’s first president, and in 1992, he received the national Texas Professor of the Year Award. He also received Tech’s Distinguished Alumnus Award; the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award; the University’s Distinguished Research Award; the President’s Academic Achievement Award; and lifetime awards for writing from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Book Festival. Four of his books won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
By far his most cherished honor was his and Carol’s anniversary each August, for on the first day he saw Carol in their sophomore year at Lubbock High, he shouted to a friend after school as they rode motor scooters to work, “I’m gonna marry that girl someday!” –an audacious dream that came true.
Preceded in death by his beloved wife, Carol; his parents; also, by Liz McDonald Paschall and Clyde Paschall (sister and brother-in-law); Bo and Virginia McDonald (brother and sister-in-law); David Michael McDonald (sound); and 3 of David’s 4 children, Jennifer, Jessica, and Michael McDonald.
He is survived by Cindy (daughter) and husband Kelly Wright and their children, Jacob & wife Jenna, Jordan & husband Christopher Henz, and Jillian; and 2 great-grandchildren, Hayden, and Norah; David Matthew McDonald (grandson) & wife Danielle and two great-grandchildren, Christopher and Marley; Charlie McDonald (son) and wife Amy; and daughters, Riley Glanzer and Amelia McDonald; nieces Tana McDonald Beasley, and Patti Paschall along with her brother and children.
The family of Walter McDonald will celebrate his life of 87 years with Graveside services with military honors at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at the City of Lubbock Cemetery. Memorial services will be at 3:30 PM on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at the Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers with visitation to follow. We invite you to view the live-streamed memorial service on this page, sign his virtual guestbook, and download his memorial keepsake folder to your device for printing. We also ask that you consider viewing his Life Tribute, a video of photographs set to his favorite music.
The family of Walt McDonald has designated the Children’s Home of Lubbock or your favorite charity for memorial contributions donated in his memory.
Published by Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers from Jan. 26 to Jan. 27, 2022.