WATERVLIET - John Daniel Walko, PhD, 77, of Watervliet, New York lost a tough fight to cancer at St. Peter’s Hospital of Albany on December 7, 2019. John, “J.D.,” Dr. Walko, Brother, Dad, and Grandpa was a life-long educator and learner, but often could be caught traveling the world, enjoying new experiences, while always uplifting and uniting those around him wherever he went.
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John leaves an enduring and powerful legacy for many family members and friends who will miss his presence deeply. He is survived by his brother David and life partner Sophie who were very dear to his heart, his former wives and good friends, Linda Walko Hedman (née Walker) and Sue Ellen Walko, his four children with Linda: Gregory, Thomas, Matthew and Janet, who all went on to raise families; and many loving grandchildren and close friends. This strong and beautiful family unit includes Gregory and his wife Jozefine’s young son Rick; Thomas’ children Isabella, Palma and Gianluca; Matthew and his wife Kathleen’s children Ethan, Douglas and Claire; and daughter Janet Malenfant and husband Michael’s children Sarah Rose, Jessica, Sean and Mikayla. John was a loving father, husband, grandfather, mentor, and friend to all who shared time with him.
John was a life-long athlete at Maplewood School, Watervliet High School Class of 1960 and Colgate University Class of 1964. John and his brother David were inaugural members of the Watervliet High School Athletic Hall of Fame. John played football, basketball, and baseball at WHS. In football, he was an All-City performer, in baseball, he was captain, and in basketball he led the WHS team to the Section II “Class B” Championship. He was voted to the All-City Team his junior and senior year and to the All-Area Team as a senior. Academically, John soared as well, being selected as the single representative from WHS to attend Boys’ State in 1958. At Colgate University he played football and basketball, being one of only three students to play both sports. Following college, he played many years in various adult basketball leagues. He and his brother David were leading players on a series of St. Nicholas Cohoes “R” Club basketball teams that won a string of national championships. His sports accomplishments truly demonstrate his passion for athletics, health, wellness, hard work and team unity.
He received his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Albany and influenced many students while teaching Social Studies at Columbia High School in East Greenbush, NY for over 30 years. At Columbia he was the founder of the Model Congress Club which he led for decades. In addition, he retired from teaching Public Policy and Education at HVCC and SUNY Albany. He was the Director of the Academy for Character Education at the time of his passing. John always went beyond academic education. He exemplified the importance of mindfulness in living. He valued building character, community and knowledge of the world around us. John was passionate about traveling the world, and he was always ready to explore and learn something new.
Visitation will be from 4 PM until 7 PM at the Parker Bros. Memorial, 2013 Broadway, Watervliet, NY on Thursday, December 19. A Life Celebration will be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12206 on Saturday, December 21 at Noon. John’s resting place will be next to his beloved parents John and Zenovia Walko (née Karpiak) at Memory Gardens Cemetery and Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Academy for Character Education, Attn: Sandy Brower, PO Box 287, Mayfield, NY 12117.
Condolence book at ParkerBrosMemorial.com.