Dean Walley passed away on Thursday September 28, 2017. In numerous children's books, poems and Hallmark greeting cardsa€"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 Twaina€"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."
Dean was born May, 8, 1938 in Hannibal, Mo. 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, Iowaa€"and then Hickory, North Carolina, 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. Samberg who sent Dean a letter shortly thereafter stating that he thought the poem was quite good and that he enjoyed it.
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 1200-mile odyssey. Dean submitted articles to the Hannibal Carrier 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.
February 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.
In 1964, Dean was hired as a writer for Hallmark Cards, Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri, 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, Kansas, 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.
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'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 decadesa€"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, Mo.; nieces Dr. Laura K. C. Srivorakiat and her husband Mr. Ekapan Srivorakiat of Cincinnati, OH; Dr. Kelley M. K. Hitchman and her husband Mr. Adam Hitchman of San Antonio, TX; Mrs. Katie E. J. Walley-Wiegert and her husband Mr. Taylor Wiegert of Richmond, VA; grandniece Kiera H. D. Haarberg of San Antonio, TX; and grandnephew Jaxon J. C. Hitchman of San Antonio, TX.
Funeral services will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Monday October 2 at Smith Funeral Home & Chapel (2619 St. Mary's Avenue in Hannibal). The Reverend Tim Goodman will officiate. Visitation will be from 11:00 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 & Chapel (2619 St. Mary's Avenue in Hannibal).