Recently, while perusing digitized back issues of the Vincennes Sun-Commercial, a story on the front page of the June 28, 1935, issue caught my eye. The article was about Vincennes native Frank Walton and a book he had just published called “The Sea is My Workshop,” describing his experiences as a California lifeguard. I didn’t know much about Walton, so I became interested in his story and undertook more detailed research, discovering a man who lived a life of great accomplishment. Frank Emulous Walton was born in Vincennes on Feb. 13, 1909, to Frank and Emma Miller Walton. His father operated a Main Street shoe store and was later in the real estate and loan business. The family rented furnished rooms in their Harrison Street home. The younger Walton stood out with his red hair, blue eyes, and ruddy complexion. Walton excelled as an athlete, becoming an accomplished swimmer, a skill he credited to his training at the Vincennes YMCA, then located at Fourth and Broadway Streets. He even took part in swimming competitions in the Wabash River. The family moved to Berkeley, California in 1923, where Walton finished high school. He continued his education at the University of Oregon, Stanford, Northwestern, and California State. In total, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in police science and a master’s in public administration. It was during his college years that he worked as a lifeguard, gleaning material for the aforementioned book. As a young man, he held all kinds of other jobs for brief periods of time, everything from a carpenter to driving instructor. He would become a member of Mensa, an organization for people with a high IQ. In 1927, Walton had the honor of being chosen to travel to Hawaii, with the San Francisco Olympic Club Team. In 1929, he was the Amateur Athletic Union national swimming champion, and in 1931 he competed with the American swim team in Japan. In 1948, he was a member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team at that year’s games in London. Walton worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before joining the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was employed for 21 years, holding the position of deputy chief from 1955 until his retirement at the age of 50 in 1959. His career in law enforcement was put on hold by World War II. Walton served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was an intelligence officer with Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (VMF-214) what became known as the famous Black Sheep Squadron, which operated in the Solomon Islands during the war. He retired from the Reserve in 1969, with the rank of colonel. In 1986, he published a second book called “Once They Were Eagles,” about the squadron’s experiences. Following his retirement from the LAPD, he took a job with the U.S. State Department as a public safety advisor, training police officers for the government of South Vietnam. He retired from that position in 1971. Walton then moved to Hawaii. He died in a Honolulu hospital at the age of 84 on Nov. 20, 1993. His ashes were scattered at sea. His first wife, Carol, whom he married in 1932, died in 1989. He was survived by his second wife, Virginia. Walton certainly never forgot his Vincennes boyhood. As a nod to that time, memorial donations could be made to the Vincennes YMCA’s Frank E. Walton Boy Camp Fund. Brian Spangle can be reached at brianrspangle60@outlook.com. His latest book, “Hidden History of Vincennes & Knox County,” published this year by The History Press, is available for purchase at the Knox County Public Library and on Amazon.

Recently, while perusing digitized back issues of the Vincennes Sun-Commercial, a story on the front page of the June 28, 1935, issue caught my eye. The article was about Vincennes native Frank Walton and a book he had just published called “The Sea is My Workshop,” describing his experiences as a California lifeguard. I didn’t know much about Walton, so I became interested in his story and undertook more detailed research, discovering a man who lived a life of great accomplishment.

Frank Emulous Walton was born in Vincennes on Feb. 13, 1909, to Frank and Emma Miller Walton. His father operated a Main Street shoe store and was later in the real estate and loan business. The family rented furnished rooms in their Harrison Street home. The younger Walton stood out with his red hair, blue eyes, and ruddy complexion.

Walton excelled as an athlete, becoming an accomplished swimmer, a skill he credited to his training at the Vincennes YMCA, then located at Fourth and Broadway Streets. He even took part in swimming competitions in the Wabash River.

The family moved to Berkeley, California in 1923, where Walton finished high school. He continued his education at the University of Oregon, Stanford, Northwestern, and California State. In total, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in police science and a master’s in public administration. It was during his college years that he worked as a lifeguard, gleaning material for the aforementioned book.

As a young man, he held all kinds of other jobs for brief periods of time, everything from a carpenter to driving instructor.

He would become a member of Mensa, an organization for people with a high IQ.

In 1927, Walton had the honor of being chosen to travel to Hawaii, with the San Francisco Olympic Club Team. In 1929, he was the Amateur Athletic Union national swimming champion, and in 1931 he competed with the American swim team in Japan. In 1948, he was a member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team at that year’s games in London.

Walton worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before joining the Los Angeles Police Department, where he was employed for 21 years, holding the position of deputy chief from 1955 until his retirement at the age of 50 in 1959.

His career in law enforcement was put on hold by World War II. Walton served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and was an intelligence officer with Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (VMF-214) what became known as the famous Black Sheep Squadron, which operated in the Solomon Islands during the war.

He retired from the Reserve in 1969, with the rank of colonel. In 1986, he published a second book called “Once They Were Eagles,” about the squadron’s experiences.

Following his retirement from the LAPD, he took a job with the U.S. State Department as a public safety advisor, training police officers for the government of South Vietnam. He retired from that position in 1971.

Walton then moved to Hawaii. He died in a Honolulu hospital at the age of 84 on Nov. 20, 1993. His ashes were scattered at sea. His first wife, Carol, whom he married in 1932, died in 1989. He was survived by his second wife, Virginia.

Walton certainly never forgot his Vincennes boyhood. As a nod to that time, memorial donations could be made to the Vincennes YMCA’s Frank E. Walton Boy Camp Fund.

Brian Spangle can be reached at brianrspangle60@outlook.com. His latest book, “Hidden History of Vincennes & Knox County,” published this year by The History Press, is available for purchase at the Knox County Public Library and on Amazon.

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