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Richard L. Walker Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-RLW

The Richard L. “Dixie” Walker Collection consists of 9.5 ft of material, bulk 1945-2003, arranged in seven series: Public Papers; Personal Papers; Speeches; Publications; Clippings; Audiovisual Records; and Scrapbooks.

Public Papers:

Public Papers consist of Walker’s records as the U.S. Ambassador to Korea (1981-1986), arranged in four subseries: Correspondence; Office Records; Press Releases; and Topical Files.

Public Correspondence files chiefly consist of “Ambassador Letters” (arranged alphabetically by Walker), congratulatory letters, letters with Congress, diplomatic invitations, letters from persons of high rank, and resignation letters between Walker and President Reagan. Also included is cable traffic, messages wired internationally. Additional correspondence is found in the Topical Files.

Office Records consist of schedules, itineraries, and guest lists for events at the residence. Included also are evaluations of Walker. One evaluator commented, “Ambassador Walker has shown himself to be entirely at home in one of the most demanding positions the Foreign Service has to offer.”

Press Releases includes several of Ambassador Walker’s speeches, a description of the Ambassador’s Residence, and press conference and interview transcripts.

Topical Files cover issues and projects, organizations, and people, such as Korean Nationalism, the U.S.-Korea Relations Centennial, Student Activism, and the KAL 007 Korean Airlines Tragedy, the “spoiled brats” episode, Lee Bum Suk (the Korean Foreign Minister) and Seoul National University. These files largely consist of correspondence, though some contain itineraries, and security protocols. Files also include “Ambassador’s Papers,” such as briefing materials, security protocols, and the resolution passed by Congress designating Walker as ambassador.

The files concerning Seoul National University, Student Activism, and the “spoiled brats” episode are to an extent related. The Seoul National University file refers to the honorary degree given to Walker on April 13, 1982, which was highly controversial and protested by Korean university student activists. The “spoiled brats” episode began with a comment Ambassador Walker allegedly made when speaking about the South Korean university student activists who occupied the United State Information Service building four blocks from the U.S. Embassy, in May of 1985. The Student Activism file itself refers to the suppression of students under the South Korean Federation of University Student Councils by Kim Young Sam’s regime. It also contains information regarding the sometimes deadly student protests in 1986.

Personal Papers:

Personal Papers consist of five sub-series: Correspondence; Family; Schedules; Travel; and Topical Files.

Personal Correspondence consists of letters, 1945-2003, with friends and associates from throughout Walker’s life and career. This material relates to his personal, business, and political activities. Of particular interest is the vast amount of correspondence with Gail Wyman, an entrepreneur in the field of herbal medicine and close friend. Included are letters written by Senator Prescott Bush and academic Gordon Tullock. Included also is a bound collection of seemingly miscellaneous letters. Additional correspondence may be found under Topical Files, Family, and Publications.

Family files consist of papers about Walker’s wife, his children and grandchildren, and his aunt. The bulk of the files relate to the memorial service, tributes to, and the estate of Celeno “Ceny” Kenly Walker, Dixie’s wife. Files also include the Kenly genealogy, information concerning the wedding of Walker’s son Stephen Bradley Walker, career of grandson Nicholas Walker, and 1943 school yearbooks. The diary consists of Celeno’s writings from Taiwan, 1954-1955. See also Scrapbook Files for Walker’s baby book.

Schedules consists of Walker’s day planner from 2003 and his wife’s “Day Diaries” from 1989 and 1990. The day diaries contain some handwritten notes and business cards.

Travel files consist largely of itineraries. Walker traveled around the world both before and after his ambassadorship. He did so for research, to teach, and for enjoyment. He traveled both singularly and with his family and sometimes for extended periods lived outside the United States. Travel files include trips to: the Far East and Australia; Russia; Korea; Washington D.C.; and Hawaii. The file for the Far East and Australia includes a book of notes.

Personal Topical Files cover issues and projects, organizations, and people with which Walker was interested or involved as a private citizen. Included are a file on his sabbatical from USC in 1980-1981 which contains formal reports on his research abroad, on his Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from USC in 1991, and on various conferences and publications. Files on organizations include The Korea Society, the Institute of Pacific Relations, the Columbia World Affairs Council, the National Leadership Forum, the Southern Center for International Studies, the Ditchley Foundations, and the Central Intelligence Agency. People represented include academic Gordon Tullock, politician Lho Shin-Yong, and physician Radjko Medenica.

Of particular interest is the Topical file on the 2000 Presidential Campaign, containing a letter from Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler thanking Walker for his efforts on Bush’s campaign. Also of interest is the file on Walker’s college days, c. 1940s-early 1950s. This includes grade reports and some correspondence.

Speech files, 1960, 1978 to 1987, 1992, 1994 to 1997, 2000 to 2001, and 2003, consist chiefly of texts and notes of speeches and lectures. An appendix, at the end of the finding aid, lists speeches represented by texts or outlines. Undated speeches and fragments of speeches are listed at the end of the appendix.

Publications files consist of writings by Walker, including journal articles and reviews. The bulk of the files consist of the drafts, notes, and manuscript for his book Korean Remembrances, published in 1998. Chapters of Korean Remembrances are based on the people Walker encountered, the issues he dealt with, and the ups and downs of diplomacy while traveling and living in Korea. These files also include the notes for Celeno’s book, My Other Country. A complete list of publications, 1946 to 1980, is also here. Publications files include some correspondence. The publications appendix only lists publications present in the collection. Publications are arranged chronologically within academic papers, articles, chapters and essays, and reviews.

Clippings include academic reviews of Walker’s publications and Press Translations, which speak largely about Walker’s diplomacy from a Korean point of view.

Audio-Visual records include photographs, c. 1920s; 1940s-1990s, and two video cassette tapes entitled “Ambassador Walker’s 20th Hwangap Anniversary: We Love Dixie Walker” and “Dr. R. Walker’s Lecture, Opening the Celebration Performance to Celebrate the Dragon Year.”

The Scrapbooks subseries consists of three photo albums and Walker’s baby book.


  • 1920s, 1940s-2005



Library use only


9.5 Linear Feet


Richard L. "Dixie" Walker dedicated his life and career to intercultural understanding. He served his nation as a soldier during World War II, as a professor of international studies both at home and abroad, as a foreign policy advisor to the government, and as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, 1981-1986. In the mid 1990s, Walker retired as the James F. Byrnes Professor Emeritus and Ambassador-in-Residence at the University of South Carolina. President Ronald Reagan regarded Walker's service as quiet diplomacy turned into an art form.

Biographical Note

“You have tuned quiet diplomacy into an art form, and your actions have improved bilateral relations by serving the interests of both the U.S. and ROK.” ~Former president Ronald Reagan in a letter to Richard L. Walker, November 7, 1983

Richard L. “Dixie” Walker dedicated his life and career to intercultural understanding. He served his nation as a soldier during World War II, as a professor of international studies both at home and abroad, as a foreign policy advisor to the government, and as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

Born on April 13, 1922 to Robert S. Walker and Genevieve Bible Walker, Walker grew up in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. From an early age, he was an avid lover of music and player of the violin. Along with his wife Celeno Kenly, who played piano, Walker studied Chinese classical music in Taiwan, 1954 to 1955, and played in a concert with the Chinese Classical Music Society. Walker was also an advocate for the music community in Columbia, SC. Of his regard for music, Walker once commented, “A good musician is a good diplomat.”

Walker graduated high school in 1940, at which point he entered into college at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he played in a string ensemble. He finished a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science in 1943, after joining the U.S. Army. During his service in the Army, Walker earned a certificate for Chinese Language and Area from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. By 1950, Walker received a Master of Arts in Far Eastern and Russian Studies and a Doctorate in International Relations from Yale University.

Walker served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946. From 1945 to 1946, he served as a member of the Allied Translator Service, working from General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Drawing on the intensive language training he received in the Army and a family history in missionary work, Walker acted as a Mandarin Chinese language interpreter. Walker was honorably discharged in 1946 as Second Lieutenant. He later served in the Korean War, retiring as a U.S. Army Reserve officer in 1953.

Over the next twenty-five years, Walker developed his academic career as a professor of international studies, with particular focus on East Asia. He taught in numerous prestigious institutions around the United States and abroad, acting in associate positions, visiting and research posts, and directorships. In the U.S., Walker served as an educator most notably at Yale University, the University of Washington, National War College in Washington D.C., the Institute of International Relations in Hawaii, and the University of South Carolina. He also taught internationally at such schools as National Taiwan University, Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan, and National Cheng-chi University in Taiwan.

Walker joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1957, when he was recruited from the Army War College by USC president Donald Russell. It was his goal to organize a new international studies program at USC. He founded the Institute of International Studies in 1961, and acted as head of the department until 1972. The institute was renamed in his honor in 1994. In 1959, Walker received USC’s first endowed professorship, designating him James F. Byrnes Professor of International Relations. After his ambassadorship, Walker returned to USC, later retiring as the James F. Byrnes Professor Emeritus and Ambassador-in-Residence at the University.

A great part of Walker’s academic significance lay in his attempt to some extent stand between the two opposing sides during the McCarthy era—a period from the late 1940s to late 1950s, characterized by intense anti-communist sentiment and suspicion in the United States. In a 1998 memoir, Walker noted, “This accumulation of events relating to China created within the small and intimate community of America’s China scholars a tinder box of recrimination and finger-pointing, giving the normal rivalries and differences….an unprecedented intensity.” He further noted that he met academic exclusion for his perceived anti-Communist China bias. He published a book in 1956 entitled China Under Communism: The First Five Years, in which he recognized the suffering and atrocities occurring under the communist regime in the People’s Republic of China. Walker argued that communism was incompatible with Chinese culture in the long-term.

Walker participated in numerous professional advocacy and academic organizations. Walker acted not only as member, but served on the boards for groups such as the American Bureau for Medical Advancement in China, the American-Asian Educational Exchange, the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation, the National Committee on United State-China Relations, the Conference on European Problems, and the United States Strategic Institute. From 1995 to 1997, he was president of the American Association for China Studies.

In addition to international studies organizations, Walker helped with some political campaigns. Around 1970, he organized Republicans for John West, supporting West’s gubernatorial campaign in South Carolina. And in 1980, he served on the foreign policy advisory committee for Ronald Reagan’s presidential run.

In April 1981, President Reagan appointed Walker U.S. Ambassador to South Korea. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and served longer than previous U.S. ambassadors, 1981 to 1986. Walker’s service in Korea was fraught with crises and threats, both personally and for U.S.-Korea relations. In April of 1982, intelligence reports indicated that students would attempt to assassinate the ambassador as he received an honorary degree from Seoul National University. In September of 1983, a Soviet interceptor shot down a Korean Airlines civilian plane (KAL 007), killing all 269 passengers and crew. And a month later, North Korean terrorists attacked South Korean Cabinet officials visiting Rangoon. This attempt to assassinate the president of South Korea resulted in the deaths of seventeen South Korean officials. And in May of 1985, South Korean university students occupied the United States Information Service building four blocks from the U.S. Embassy. Seventy-two hours of negotiation brought a peaceful resolution. Walker commented, “Koreans are engaged in the process of national self-assertion.” It was this tumultuous nationalism that presented perhaps his greatest challenge.

Though it was a delicate period of U.S.-Korea relations, a highlight of Walker’s service was the State Visit of President and Mrs. Reagan in November, 1983. Both Korea’s and U.S. governments hailed the trip as a success and maintained that it helped solidify the U.S.-Korea partnership. For his service, President Reagan presented Walker with special recognition and awarded him the highest civilian decoration by the Department of Defense.

On August 15, 2000, the Air Force Association newsletter noted that Walker was “one of the world’s foremost China/Asia experts for the past 50 years.” Walker focused his life on study, writing, and involvement in East Asia. He frequently traveled in East and Southeast Asia for service with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Information Agency, and for personal research. At times he lived with his family in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Walker wrote seventeen books, contributed to over seventy other works, and authored numerous articles and reviews. In all his research and writing, he focused particularly on cultural factors in international relations. Walker received many awards, including the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon from the Republic of China on Taiwan. He passed away in 2003.


Donated by Anne Cleveland, daughter of Richard L. Walker.


Copyright of the Richard L. Walker Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.

Processing Information

Processed by Heather M. Adkins, 2012.

Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA

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