Walter Mead

Walter Bruce "Wally" Mead of Germantown Hills, formerly of Bloomington, passed away Aug. 8, 2018.

Born May 25, 1934, to Emma and Otis Mead as one of the soon-to-be celebrated Mead triplets, Wally and his surviving brothers Wayne and Warne were the subject of numerous stories in the Cedar Rapids Gazette as well as a calendar documenting their first year of life. They were quite a surprise to the whole family, particularly their older sister Miriam (Mim), who passed away April 12.

In addition to his brothers, Wally is survived by his wife, Norma Rossi Mead, and her sons, Michael (wife Lisa and sons Gabriel and Jacob) and Daniel (wife Amy); and nine nieces and nephews.

He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton College in 1956, master of divinity from Yale Divinity School, 1960, and master of arts and doctorate in political science from Duke University in 1963. He was assistant professor of government at Lake Forest College from 1963 to 1967 and professor of political science at Illinois State University from 1967 to 1995. He was the author of two books: Extremism and Cognition: Styles of Irresponsibility in American Society, and The United States Constitution: Personalities, Principles and Issues, as well as numerous articles for professional journals. He was a Forum commentator for 15 years on radio station WJBC, Bloomington.

He had a lifelong interest in and devotion to civil rights and was arrested for his efforts to integrate a restaurant during a sit-in in Durham, N.C., in 1962, serving in what was called a “chain gang,' though chains were no longer used at that time. His guard and fellow prisoners were unsympathetic to the cause and therefore he was always the point man for destroying rattlesnake nests and despite intense physical labor, was denied water though the temperature reached nearly 100 degrees. A fellow prisoner had warned him not to run to give the guard an excuse to shoot him in the back, but he eventually passed out due to heat exhaustion so the guard had to radio for an ambulance resulting in Wally spending the rest of his sentence recovering in the hospital. He had long-term effects from that experience.

He was president of the Michael Polanyi Society and served in many other leadership positions, the American Academy of Religion, American Philosophical Association and the American Political Science Association. He served on the McLean County Board, was president of the McLean County Mental Health Association, and director of the International Study Programs at Illinois State University from 1988 to 2002. He was a recipient of awards from the Lilly Foundation, Earhart Foundation, Rockefeller Theological Foundation and George Baker Foundation.

Some of his friends liked to call Wally, “a gentleman and a scholar,” as his credentials supported. But those who knew Wally best from visiting, kayaking, canoeing, bicycling or swimming, can attest that in his heart, he was a generous, fun-loving kid who enjoyed people and life to the utmost.

A memorial service will be 1:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria, 3000 W. Richwoods Blvd. A Bloomington service will be held at a soon-to-be-determined date.

Donations in his name can be made to The Polanyi Society, c/o Dr. Charles Lowney, 10 Jordan St., Lexington, VA 24450 or charities of the donor's choice.

Friends and family may sign the guestbook or send private condolences to www.wrightandsalmon.com.

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