Frederick Walker

Obituary of Frederick John Walker


Frederick John Walker was born February 19, 1942, in the Medicine Hat Hospital to Jack and Florence Walker, who were working at the Medicine Hat Feeding Company Ranch at Tilley. After four years, and the arrival of two more sons Ken and Ron, they moved to the Box Springs area north of Medicine Hat.

    The brothers attended school at Terra Nova until they were bussed to Medicine Hat. Many happy years were spent trying to grow wheat or oats, and raising beef cattle. They milked cows and sold cream to Purity Dairy. The boys made their own fun riding the milk cow. Fred’s rodeo career began! His mom heard the cow bellowing, ran to see what was wrong and found Fred trying his best to stay on. No camera, so no pictures.

    The family always had horses so Fred became a first-rate horsemen and exceptional roper. He won buckles at Brooks in 1958 in Junior Calf Roping and the next year for fastest time in calf roping at Medicine Hat Roping Club.

    He met his future wife Diana by ‘accident’ when she overturned a tractor in the ditch and he and Wayne Page were part of the rescue crew. That was the summer of 1962. He was working for Al Goodine at the time. The two farm hands later did fall work for Jim. He needed help for the winter but only needed one helper. They tossed a coin: Fred “lost” and his life took a turn.

    Diana, daughter of Jim and Helen Ball, and Fred were married in the Oyen United Church on a cool, windy October 22, 1966.

    With eight heifers in tow, a wedding present from Jim and Helen, the newly weds headed for Medicine Hat where they settled in for the winter on Fred’s parents’ ranch with Fred’s younger brother Ron – wind generated power, outdoor plumbing and no TV!

    In April of 1967, they moved to the government experimental station at One Four, south of Medicine Hat near the US border, where Fred attained a wrangler’s job.

    Diana stayed in Redcliff for a week with Fred’s cousin to await the birth of their first-born. Diana rode to Medicine Hat Hospital with neighbors Mo Snyder and Garnet Leach. Lee Ann arrived April 21.

That summer the Walkers spent most of their weekends rodeoing in Montana.

    In the spring of 1968, they returned to Oyen to care for Jim’s cows and horses at the 12-section lease, north of the Red Deer River. That fall they bought a mobile home and moved to Oyen.

    Dale was born August 15, 1970. Being a weekend, Fred was gone to a rodeo so after waiting for Jim to watch the end of FBI at 11 p.m. Jim and Diana headed to the hospital. Grandpa Jim would have been there for the arrival but he had gone out for a smoke and couldn’t get back in. Dr. McCracken phoned Jim the news.

    They purchased NW28-27-4-W4 from Jim in 1973 and bought a modular home. Jim and Fred put it on a basement as the crew from Edmonton only delivered the house! It has been their home for 50 years. Fred raised cattle including purebred Charolais, Black Angus and Longhorns. He  was so  proud  the  day  his father turned over the

-7- brand to him for both cattle and horses.

Six foster children were part of their family during the seventies.

    June 16, 1983 Fred and Diana were blessed with son Travis, born in Foothills Hospital.

    Fred was to be best man for his 72-year-old uncle Alphy Johnson who was getting married, for the first time, two days later in Ontario.

   Fred left that night, picked up his mother and Ron and drove to Ontario, attended the wedding and returned Monday morning to take Diana and Travis home where they attended a Lions meeting that was a surprise baby shower.

    Amanda completed the family making her appearance August 23, 1985, again by appointment, as Diana wanted to attend Lee Ann’s SCHS awards night later that week. Dr Hoang allowed not only Fred to attend the birth but Lee Ann and Dale as well.

    Fred enjoyed rodeo life from 1954 to 1985 competing in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Wyoming, California, North Dakota, Oregon and Montana. He won buckles, trophies and five saddles competing in all events in the Saskatchewan Amateur Rodeo Cowboys Association, later known as Canadian Cowboys Association winning Saddle Bronc (1964), Saddle Bronc, Bareback and All Around (1965); Bull Riding (1970 and 1971) and All Around (1971).

    He turned pro in 1972 and was $9 short of winning the Permit Holder Award that year, losing to Brian Claypool. He had two trademarks. He wore one pant leg over his boot where he kept his wallet and even after he quit smoking he would often light a cigarette in the chute and still have it in his mouth when he dismounted.

    In 1974, he began picking up for Kesler Rodeo Stock including Calgary Stampede (1976-78), and was a stockman at the Calgary Stampede (1974-84). He hauled Kesler bucking stock (1978-85).

    In 1979, he began judging and was picked by the cowboys to judge the Canadian Finals in Edmonton that fall. His photo on the book ‘Rodeo Cowboys The Last Heroes’, was taken at that event. He continued to judge until 1985, then helped out at the Oyen and Cereal bull-a-rams until 2004. Buffalo & District Agricultural Society presented Fred with a certificate of appreciation for continued service toward the production of the annual Buffalo Rodeo 1975-2015.

    Besides ranching, Fred worked nights during the winter at Acadia Seed Processing Co-op (1979-81); was a commercial grain hauler with his own truck and trailer (1979-92), and a seasonal truck driver for Oyen Concrete (1995 to 2013), taking a year off to drive fuel truck for Farming Valley Investments. He long-hauled cattle, grain, salt, fertilizer and hay for Jason McKee (Oyen to Ontario) and produce for Rod Hertz (Alberta to Saskatchewan, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California). During the winter months he was an occasional driver for I.W. Kuhn, Vortrax Construction and Simmons.

    Fred took flying lessons in the fall of 1975 at Oyen Airport. The next year Fred and Jim purchased a 1959 Cessna 172 from George Bishoff. A building was erected on the farm to serve as both hanger and shop. The Walkers enjoyed many flights with the Oyen Flying Club and personal journeys throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. They sold it in 1992.

    In 1975, Fred joined the Oyen Lions Club. Over 25 years he enjoyed working on community projects, traveling and developing lasting friendships.

    He served as bar man, tail twister and treasurer taking on the role of president in 1988-89, Zone Chairman 1990-1991, Region Five Chairman in 1991-1992 and a second term as president in 1997-1998.

    What an adventure in 1992, when he accompanied his Mom on a three-week holiday to Sweden to visit relatives on her side of the family.

    He had the pleasure of climbing in with the Girletz boys when they took their bulls to PBR in Las Vegas from 1999-2002. Then BSE hit and they couldn’t cross the border. Those stories will stay in Vegas!

     He became a life member of Big Country Agricultural Society in 2010 and took great pride in working the ground for several winters for barrel racing series and rough stock events.

    In the fall of 2016, Fred’s family began to notice that his decision-making skills were failing. He was diagnosed with early onset frontotemporal dementia. He was admitted to Big Country Hospital in July 2021 and in August was moved to Good Samaritans in Medicine Hat. April 1 of 2022 Alberta Health Services allowed him to move to Sagewood in Strathmore where he stayed until October of this year when he was accepted in Oyen Extended Care.

    He passed away December 19 with daughters Lee Ann and Amanda by his side. All of his family was able to spend the last days surrounding him with love, laughter and music.

    Life, as it was before December 19, will not be the same without Fred/Dad/Grandy but sharing photos, memories, support, laughter and most of all our love will take us forward into new adventures, developing new ways of ‘chasing cows’ throughout our lives, realizing we can be unique, true to ourselves yet be a bit of a rebel. 


    Fred is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Diana; daughter Lee Ann Kuhn (Sheldon), and daughters Kaylin (Nathan) and great-grandbaby Renn, Shaina, and Brittany (Dave); son Dale (Stacie) and children Vance and Mya; son Travis; daughter Amanda Paetz (Craig), and children Asher, Ada, Archer and Aislyn; daughter Debby Schmitt (Chuck) and children Stephanie (Brady) and Robby (Ashley); brother Ron Walker; sister-in-law Malinda Good (Don) and daughter Jamie Wagstaff (Quinn) and granddaughters Hannah, Haylee and Olivia.

    He was pre-deceased by his infant sister Lorraine (1944), father Jack (1981) and mother Florence (2010); brother Ken (2017); father-in-law Jim Ball (2007) and mother-in-law Helen Ball (2010), nephew Ashley Good (2001).