May 20, 2011

The faculty and staff of the College of Engineering (CoE) would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the Frank H. Walk family. Mr. Walk was not only a CoE alumnus but also a faithful supporter of the College and Mechanical Engineering.

Frank H. Walk, a retired consulting engineer and civic leader who during World War II landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, died Tuesday at Lambeth House in New Orleans. He was 90.

Mr. Walk was born in Decatur, Ala., and grew up in Baton Rouge. He graduated from Catholic High School and Louisiana State University, receiving a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

Upon graduation in 1942, he was commissioned as a reserve second lieutenant and was immediately called to active duty in the Army Corps of Engineers, serving with amphibious assault landing units in the Pacific and Europe.

On D-Day, he was the assistant traffic control officer for the 6th Engineer Special Brigade, but after his superior became shell-shocked, he took charge, organizing the troops and directing their movement inland from Omaha Beach.

"It was an awesome responsibility for a 23-year-old captain," Mr. Walk recalled many years later. "Nothing had happened to neutralize the German beach defenses. We were under small arms, machine gun, 88mm artillery and heavy mortar fire. Bodies were literally piled up on the beach. But we kept moving forward and finally we were able to clear the obstacles on the beach exits."

He received the Bronze Star and was discharged after the war with the rank of colonel.

Mr. Walk then returned to Baton Rouge, earning a master's degree in civil engineering from LSU and holding various engineering and management positions in private industry and with consulting firms. He moved to New Orleans in 1954 and in 1959 co-founded Walk, Haydel & Associates Inc. with Gerald Haydel.

The firm specialized in industrial plant design, project management, environmental engineering and construction management. It became New Orleans' largest locally owned engineering firm, with hundreds of employees and branches in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Ala., Little Rock, Ark., and Saudi Arabia.

Walk, Haydel was the design and construction manager for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port terminal and distribution facilities. Other projects included the Big Hill oil-storage site in Texas and the Main Pass sulfur mine project for Freeport-McMoRan Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico. It also had contracts for the expansion of Freeport's copper mine in Indonesia and improvements to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

With its two founders at retirement age, the privately held firm was acquired by Dames & Moore of Los Angeles in 1995. Dames & Moore in turn was acquired by URS Corp. in 1999.

In 1987, Mr. Walk was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the Mississippi River Commission.

He held leadership positions in a number of professional societies. He received the ASME Oil Drop Award for achievement in petroleum mechanical engineering and was named a member of the Engineering Hall of Distinction at LSU and the University of New Orleans. He received an honorary doctorate of engineering from UNO in 1990.

Mr. Walk also was active in civic and community affairs, serving as chairman of The Chamber, New Orleans & the River Region; the Economic Development Council; and the MetroVision Executive Committee.

He was a former president of the World Trade Center of New Orleans, a founding member of the National World War II Museum and a member of the Avoca Duck Club and the Boston Club.

Mr. Walk was a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church. He was events chairman for the 1987 visit to New Orleans by Pope John Paul II, who named him a knight of the Papal Order of St. Gregory.

He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping and hiking.

Mr. Walk's wife, Consuelo Faust Walk, died in 2010. Survivors include three sons, Frank H. "Woody" Walk Jr., Edmond Wade Walk and Wesley Albert Walk; two daughters, Wendelyn Walk Michell and Karen Abaunza Walk; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A Mass will be said today at 1 p.m. at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 6367 St. Charles Ave. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. Burial will be private.


The above article was originally published on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 by New Orleans Business News. To see the original article, click here.

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