Walter M. North
Professor emeritus of sociology, pioneer in field of college financial aid
February 01, 2013
Walter M. North, professor emeritus of sociology at Knox College and a pioneer in the college financial aid profession, died Thursday, January 31, in Galesburg. He was 91.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, North married Lois Kirkwood in 1950. He was preceded in death by his wife and daughter Elizabeth Kirkwood North.
North taught sociology at Knox from 1950 until his retirement in 1988, and served as director of financial aid from the creation of the office in 1959 until he returned to full-time teaching in 1979. He also chaired the department of sociology and anthropology from 1960 to 1967.
One of the earliest and most widely respected professionals in the field of financial aid for college students, North is credited with training many financial aid officers at other colleges and universities. He testified before Congress and wrote several influential reports on financial aid in higher education. Throughout the 1960s, North served as a consultant for Illinois Bell Telephone Company, conducting research with operators and designing management training seminars. In Galesburg, he was active in community organizations, including Carver Community Center and city and county planning agencies.
In a special citation in 1971, North was honored by the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators as a "tireless worker [to bring about a] better professional organization ... who has won the respect and admiration of all with whom he comes in contact."
North was inducted into The College Scholarship Service Hall of Fame in 2004, as the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary. He was honored as one of 50 individuals who "made significant contributions to the financial aid profession."
The Hall of Fame induction cited North's leadership in college financial aid, starting at the time the field was created in the 1950s:
"Walter North refers to his time as director of student aid at Knox College (1959-1979) as the ‘frontier years.' He and his colleagues in financial aid around the country ‘were all newcomers with no one to copy and satisfied to survive by helping if and when we could.'
"North recalls touring colleges in Illinois to introduce the Educational Opportunity Grant program when it began and serving in an advisory role from time to time over 20 years with the Illinois State Scholarship Program. North served on CSS committees; he researched, wrote, and presented papers for the Midwest and Southwest Associations of Student Financial Aid Administrators ... North worked to create a professional attitude toward a function many saw as just clerical.
"Remarkably, North was able to handle student aid at Knox and assist with nascent financial aid professional organizations, all while being a professor of sociology and anthropology at the college from 1950 until his retirement in 1988."
On the occasion of North's retirement from Knox in 1988, a faculty resolution in his honor noted his "quick wit, memorable classroom style, ravenous and eclectic appetite for the written word, insistence that whatever is taken as true at the moment deserves the closest scholarly scrutiny, devotion to duty matched by scrupulous attention to detail, and modesty that belies strong institutional loyalties as well as extraordinary accomplishments."
North served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1942 to 1945. He earned his bachelor's degree at the College of William and Mary in 1947, and his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of North Carolina in 1949 and 1951, respectively. He was a member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, the Alpha Delta Kappa honor society in sociology and the American Sociological Society.
Graveside services will be at 12 noon Monday, February 4, 2013 in Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens, Galesburg with Rev. Dr. David Parker officiating. There will be no visitation. Friends may gather at one of Walter's favorite stops, the restaurant at the Hy-Vee Food Store on Henderson Street on Monday from 9:30 until 11 a.m.
Memorials may be made to the Betsy North Scholarship Fund at Knox College or to a charity of the donor's choice.
View slideshow full screen. (Includes photos from the memorial at Hy-Vee)