My Friend Dean Walley

My Friend Dean Walley

Dean Walley

Dean was a dear friend.  We met while we were students at the University of Missouri. At the time Dean was just transitioning from the UM School of Law to the School of Journalism (J School).  We were members of the Beta Theta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (The Tekes) fraternity. A favorite memory of Dean was during a Thanksgiving break when I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with Dean at his family’s home in Hannibal and learning about his childhood adventures and seeing his favorite haunts during the visit. Dean was a real gentleman and I wish I could have maintained closer contact with him after our years at Mizzou were over.  Unfortunately our contact following our time at Mizzou was by long distance communication.  I miss Dean. 

Dean was a great writer.  See his obit below and you’ll see what I mean.  The following is one of my personal favorites of his writing – a poem called Hugs.  I believe it is especially appropriate for times of sadness such as when you lose a friend – a good friend like Dean Walley.  RMF


By Dean Walley

It’s wondrous what a hug can do.
A hug can cheer you when you’re blue
A hug can say, “I love you so,”
Or, “I hate to see you go.

A hug is “Welcome back again.”
And “Great to see you! Where ‘er you been?”
A hug can soothe a small child’s pain
And bring a rainbow after rain.

The hug, there’s just no doubt about it —
We scarcely could survive without it!
A hug delights and warms and charms;
It must be why God gave us arms

Hugs are great for fathers and mothers,
Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers;
And chances are your favorite aunts
love them more than potted plants.

Kittens crave them, puppies love them,
Heads of states are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier
And make your travel so much merrier.

No need to fret about your store of ’em;
The more you give, the more there are of ’em.
So stretch those arms without delay
And give someone a hug today!

Here is the obituary as it appeared in the Sept. 29th edition of the Hannibal Courier~Post, Dean’s hometown newspaper:  

Seal of the University of Missouri

Dean Walley passed away on Thursday Sept. 28, 2017. In numerous children’s books, poems and Hallmark greeting cards, his wit, heart and commanding ability to capture humanity and tell beautiful stories endures. He was 79 years old.
The Crown Magazine, published by Hallmark, had this to say about Dean: “He has a lot in common with Twain — both grew up in Hannibal. He began his writing career as a reporter for the Hannibal Courier-Post. So did Twain. He once built a raft and floated down the Mississippi River and even tumbled off the raft at one point as did Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Both are readable storytellers and both are popular with kids.“

The Columns in Francis Quadrangle. University of Missouri

University of Missouri School of Journalism

Dean was born May, 8, 1938, in Hannibal to Kenneth H. And Pauline Q. Johnson Walley. He entered Mark Twain Elementary School as a first grader in 1944. Subsequently, the family moved to Davenport, Iowa, and then Hickory, N.C., before returning to Hannibal in 1948, where Dean enrolled at Pettibone School as a fifth grader.
After graduating from Hannibal High School with the Class of 1956, Dean began college at Hannibal-LaGrange. In 1957, he was the master of ceremonies for a number of events at the college. That same year he wrote a poem titled “Hannibal,” which parodies Carl Sandberg’s “Chicago” poem. The poem was sent to Mr. Sandberg who sent Dean a letter shortly thereafter stating that he thought the poem was quite good and that he enjoyed it.

Former Tau Kappa Epsilon
Chapter House (Now owned by Sigma Nu)

Dean graduated from Hannibal-LaGrange College in 1958, having held many offices. He then joined the University of Missouri’s prestigious Journalism school. He was co-editor for the university’s student-run newspaper, The Maneater, where he earned an editorial award from The Missouri College Newspaper Association. In 1959, he was selected Missouri’s top orator for his essay on “The Road Not Taken.”

Dean’s love for literature and flair for adventure collided during the summer of 1959 when Dean, the ringleader, and two of his classmates, traveled from Hannibal to New Orleans

on a raft which they had constructed – a 1,200-mile odyssey. Dean submitted articles to the Hannibal Courier-Post throughout the journey, taking cues from Mark Twain’s famous river exploits. It was an adventure that he relished for the rest of his life.
Feb. 1, 1962, five days after graduating from the University of Missouri, Dean enlisted in the United States Navy. After basic training, he was assigned to the Navy repair ship called “USS Ajax,” which was stationed in Japan. There, he worked as a journalist and a speechwriter for an admiral. In June of 1963, he was awarded the George Washington Honor Medal and a cash prize for an essay he submitted to the Freedom Foundation. While in Japan he spent time with a Japanese family, who helped him see and participate in many facets of Japanese life and culture. It was during this time that he climbed Mount Fuji with a group of Japanese pilgrims, arriving at the summit at sunrise.

Dean at Hallmark

In 1964, Dean was hired as a writer for Hallmark Cards, Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., and then became a writing manager a year later. He married Mary Loberg, a fellow Hallmark writer, in 1965. In 1968 they moved to California and worked out of Hallmark’s Santa Monica office as contract writers. Although they divorced in 1970, they remained the closest of companions. Dean remained in California and became an independent freelance writer for several companies, including American Greetings. He was also the head writer for the Los Angeles-based children’s television show, “Dusty’s Treehouse.” In 1972, he joined April House publications in Lexnexa, Kan., where he wrote for a variety of products, including gift books. In 1978, Dean continued freelancing, taking his skills to Nice, France. After succumbing to what he referred to as “French Riviera fever,” (spending all his money abroad), he moved back to Kansas City and rejoined the creative minds at Hallmark. Some of his best-selling Hallmark children’s books include “Puck’s Peculiar Pet Shop,” “Lamont The Lonely Monster” and “The Adventures of Super Pickle.” Dean retired in 2003, and in 2011, published his memoir, “Out of Hannibal” in which he relates stories about his life, his beloved hometown of Hannibal and his fascinating career with words.

This is God’s World
By Dean Walley

Dean loved words; he loved pulling them out of the air and putting them together in beautiful, meaningful and memorable ways. He also loved people – reading about them, telling stories about them and embellishing on his stories until no one was sure what was true and what wasn’t.
Dean loved his family and could never say enough wonderful things about his parents his brother, Lynn, and wife, Kathy, and his three beloved nieces whom he adored.

Dean on the cover of Love Is A Funny Thing

Dean’s Kansas City book club, “The Milton Society” was an institution of sorts that met monthly. It consisted of nearly 10 dearest friends who gathered together for more than three decades — and they, too, were family to Dean.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents. Survivors include his brother, Dr. Lynn J. Walley and sister-in-law, Mrs. Kathryn L. Walley of Hannibal; nieces, Dr. Laura K. C. Srivorakiat and her husband, Mr. Ekapan Srivorakiat of Cincinnati, Ohio; Dr. Kelley M. K. Hitchman and her husband, Mr. Adam Hitchman of San Antonio, Texas; Mrs. Katie E. J. Walley-Wiegert and her husband, Mr. Taylor Wiegert of Richmond, Va.; grand-niece, Kiera H.D. Haarberg of San Antonio, Texas; and grand-nephew, Jaxon J.C. Hitchman of San Antonio, Texas.
Funeral services will take place at 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2, at Smith Funeral Home and Chapel (2619 St. Mary’s Ave. in Hannibal). The Rev. Tim Goodman will officiate. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the time of the service at the funeral home. Interment will be at Grand View Burial Park.
John Hunt, Ekapan Srivorakiat, Ed Cunningham, George Harris and Jack Herring III will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the “Milton Society” book club from Kansas City, Mo., and Dean’s three nieces.
Memorial contributions may be made to Community Loving Care Hospice, Beth Haven Nursing Home or Clover Road Christian Church, in care of Smith Funeral Home and Chapel (2619 St. Mary’s Ave. in Hannibal).
Online condolences may be made to the family and video tribute viewed on Dean’s memorial page at


About ronfurg

Former naval officer, federal investigator, forensic scientist, senior executive service member and pastor. In retirement serves as volunteer and life group leader at New Life Christian Church ( Devoted to beautiful wife, kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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