Cover photo for Walter Moore Dear II's Obituary
Walter Moore Dear II Profile Photo

Walter Moore Dear II

June 26, 1932 — August 25, 2023


Walter Moore Dear II


Walter Moore Dear II, a dedicated newspaperman who loved music, books, travel, philanthropy, dogs and cats–and, most of all, people–died at the age of 91 of a stroke and dementia.

Described by one friend as “a force of nature,” Walt lived in the present, whether he was making friends in line at the post office, the bank, the grocery store, or the bookstore. His profound interest in others informed his career as a journalist in Kentucky and his active retirement in Durango, Colorado.

Walt was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on June 26, 1932, the youngest of five sons, to Joseph Albert Dear II, a newspaper publisher, and Ella Cyrene Bakke Dear, who earned her degree in sociology. Walt’s grandfather began the family newspaper business when he bought The Jersey Journal in 1868. After Walt’s father sold the newspaper to Samuel Newhouse in 1945, the Dears continued their commitment to journalism, investing in and running several small newspapers and a radio station. 

Before joining the family business, Walt earned a B.A. in Modern European History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was elected editor of the campus newspaper. He served for three years in the U.S. Navy and was both proud of that connection and sheepish about his ship’s small role patrolling the Virginia coastline. Following his service in the Navy, he studied in Sweden for a year, writing news stories and forever afterward saying travel was one of the best forms of education.

At his first job as a journalist at The Daily Dispatch, a family newspaper in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, he met Martha Cannon, also a journalist, and they married in 1958. They moved to Henderson, Kentucky, where they would spend the next forty-one years and Walt would work as editor and publisher, and, later, as sole owner of The Gleaner. He took his job as a community newspaper man seriously and liked to quote the Scripps news slogan: “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

Walt dove into the Henderson community with vigor, leading fundraising efforts to build and support John James Audubon State Park, the Y.M.C.A., and a riverfront fountain project. He and his family were active in the Presbyterian Church, and he alternated singing boisterously with dozing in the pew. He served as president of the Kentucky Press Association.

As a youth, Walt began playing the piano when he was eight; he would share his joy of music throughout his life. He and Martha created a family tradition of an annual Christmas caroling party, which continued through age 90; he sang with their Miniature Schnauzer Rita howling along from his lap.

At age 68, Walt moved to Durango, Colorado with Martha to be near two of his children and their families. He wrote a popular column in the Durango Herald about being a newcomer and continued to be active in the Democratic Party. When Martha died of breast cancer, he created a cancer research chair at the University of Colorado, Denver, in her honor. He continued playing card games with neighbors, having weekly breakfasts with his Geezers group, and enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.  He also raised money for local causes, including Manna, Music in the Mountains, Fort Lewis College, and a fund for children’s swimming lessons at the Durango Community Recreation Center. 

Throughout his life, Walt was active in athletics, jogging and biking Kentucky backroads and biking the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango twice in his 70’s. He identified himself as a swimmer, and, like his mother, he swam into his 90’s. He climbed his first and only fourteener–Handies Peak–when he was 78.

Walt is survived by his children Bryan (Jacquelyn) and Jennie (Tom Bartels) of Durango, and Elizabeth (Russell Dudley) of Reno, Nevada; his two grandchildren, Tristan Dear and Kalen Dear, and his great-grandchild, Ellie Cyrene Phippen. He was predeceased by his wife of 46 years, Martha Cannon Dear. After Martha died in 2007, Walt was also married to Laura Lackey from 2009-2011. 

Services in memory of Walt will be Wednesday, August 30th, at River Bend Ranch at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Walt’s honor to Music in the Mountains, Fort Lewis College, or the San Juan Symphony.

To order memorial trees in memory of Walter Moore Dear II, please visit our tree store.

Past Services

Memorial Service

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

4:00 - 5:00 pm (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 187

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree

Send With Love

Send With Love