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Gryphon Gallery: Keith P. Walker

Keith P Walker

Keith was born on August 26, 1927, in Surrey, England, and passed away on March 28, 2017, in Victoria, BC. He had his first teaching experience at Copthorne School, returning to his prep school for the Autumn Term of 1945 after graduating from Winchester College and waiting for his ‘call up’ papers. After two years of conscripted service in the British Army and three years reading physics at Trinity College, Cambridge, Keith took on teaching assignments at Repton, Derbyshire; Michaelhouse, Natal; Southern Highlands, Tanganyika; Papakura, Auckland; Lancing College, Sussex; and Queen Victoria, Fiji before arriving in Victoria in 1969 to visit an old university friend and headmaster of St. Michael’s School, Carey Creek. So impressed by the city and surrounding islands, he and his wife Angela, quickly returned and he enrolled for a professional year at UVic. A classmate at UVic, Joe Titus, a parent of four boys at Glenlyon, announced that a position to teach Math for the summer term at Glenlyon was open. Keith jumped at the opportunity, had a short interview with Hamish Simpson and was immediately hired. Shortly after, in September 1970 he was appointed Assistant Headmaster.

Over the next 37 years, as well as being a teacher and Assistant Headmaster, Keith was also Headmaster at Glenlyon, Joint Head with Peggy Wilmot during the first year of the newly amalgamated GNS, Junior Boys Director, GNS Director of Development, and GNS Archivist, taking on many different roles in each capacity. During his time at Glenlyon/GNS he was referred to as either Mr. Walker, “Sir”, “KPW”, “Chappy”, “Horace”, and “The Rampant Lion” by so many – all for very different reasons but each name was delivered with great respect and affection. Mr. Walker or Sir by the majority of parents and students in his care; KPW by many colleagues who worked with him; Chappy by a large group of students during his early years at the school, based on his use of “Chaps”; Horace used by himself with reference to the Roman lyricist, as a signature when correcting teacher spelling errors in their handwritten student reports; and Rampant Lion when authoring editorials and articles written in newsletters to Old Boys. 

But the most enduring and endearing reference to Keith Pelham Walker was probably “Steady Chaps”, not so much in the exclamatory way he used it to demand calm of his ‘troops’ at assembly, but as a word that described him – sensible, reliable, controlled, balanced, and firmly fixed in his educational beliefs and organization. “Steady” was used on innumerable occasions by a multitude of ‘followers’ to describe him and became a “living epitaph” after the graduating class of 1982 presented him with a personalized car license plate, STEADY, that was proudly displayed for the remainder of his driving days.