Former businesswoman and Haines City Councilor, Lynda Walker, dies at 79
May 18, 2023
Former businesswoman and Haines City Councilor, Lynda Walker, 79, died April 26 in Albany, Oregon, after years of respiratory issues, according to her brother, Gary Bender.
"Lynda absolutely loved living in Haines," he said. Her ashes will be scattered by friends here later this summer.
Lynda and Don Walker came to Haines in the late 1970s and with son Billy Walker fished the gillnetter "Chubby." The Walkers were among the first locals to process, can or freeze and truck their fish to Canada and the Lower 48 to sell. Very close friend and longtime business partner Tom Hall said Walker was hard working in all ways.
"Lynda fished with Don. She didn't stay on shore. It was pretty tough duty," he said.
Walker became a partner in Totem Oil and Haines Propane and managed Haines Sanitation/Community Waste Solutions. Hall said she enjoyed design work for a housing development he built on Young Road and designed several homes on Lutak Road.
Chip Lende served with Walker for many years on the City Council and said he appreciated her attitude.
"Lynda was always professional and polite. She was respectful of opposing opinions and never personal about disagreements." He said he liked her quiet sense of humor too, "I enjoyed working with her."
Walker loved her time on the City Council and was instrumental in the now annual community spring clean-up. She also liked growing flowers, and Atomic Fireball candies so much that she ordered them directly from the supplier.
Former Chilkat Valley News publisher Tom Morphet covered local government and Walker's businesses and said that once you got to know her, she was sweeter than the persona she burnished on the council and at work.
"At Haines Sanitation, she listened sincerely to concerns about the environmental dangers posed by incinerating garbage and decided not to pursue that option, although I believe it would have been her least expensive and easiest solution," Morphet said.
Lynda Bender was born in Alturas, California, attended grade school in Canby, California and high school in Alturas. She met Don Walker in Klamath Falls, Oregon. They wed on April 18, 1970, and soon after came to Alaska.
When her stepson Billy Walker died in a fire, she was devastated and took in his daughters Amanda and Terra, who were in their early teens.
"She taught us all the things a mom would. How to cook, clean, do our taxes. She taught us about having a job and saving money." Terra said. "She said we should always have a 'What If ?' fund," Amanda said. "She prodded us to be our best, and to try new things. We had never really had that before. She encouraged us to try cheerleading and dance team, to go to college and to be good to people," Terra said.
The sisters said that they watched how she took care of people who were struggling and couldn't afford to pay their garbage or propane bill.
"She never asked for anything in return," Terra said.
Walker was a wonderful cook, and after work or before meetings, she loved to draw house plans. "She always had a grid book for blueprints," Amanda said. She designed about seven houses in Haines, including her own, and her plans were used by friends to build homes in other places.
Walker was a traveling companion to former Lighthouse Restaurant owner Ramona Martin on about a dozen trips to Mexico, and along with retired banker Mary Cochran, had lunch "every day for twenty years," at the Lighthouse, Martin said.
"We were all working, so we'd meet later, at 1:30. One customer from out of town told me that we three ladies were more fun to listen to than paid entertainment. We did laugh a lot," Martin said.
Walker had a house at Chilkat Lake, and thought she might retire there, but snow machining and remote living "weren't really her thing," Martin said. She moved to Oregon about six years ago.
Lynda Walker is survived by brother Gary Bender in Kettle Falls, Washington, granddaughters Amanda Walker and Terra Betzold in Williston, North Dakota, and son Brian Angland in Dallas, Oregon.