Walters of the World

by wjw on April 19, 2016

All my life, I’ve been keeping track of the other Walter Williamses out there.  On the whole, we seem to be a pretty distinguished bunch.

To start with, there was my father, who was another Walter Williams.  We had different middle names— his was Ulysses, believe it or not.  After my dad was born (in the sauna, on a Finnish-American farm), my granddad returned to the farmhouse and said my dad’s middle name would be Ulysses, “because he would travel far.”  Considering my dad was part of the Normandy Invasion and subsequently marched on into Belgium, Holland, and Germany, that prophecy was pretty well on the money.

Walter WilliamsA less distinguished Walter Williams was alleged to be the Oldest Living Confederate Veteran.  I vaguely remember the news when he died at the age of 117.  It now seems that he was a mere 104 when he died, and a child during the Civil War, and his military career invented.  But there’s still a statue of him on the Gettysburg battlefield, which is more than you can say for anyone else on this list.

(I was interested in the question because the actual oldest Civil War veteran, Albert Woolson, former drummer boy in the Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment, lived in my home town of Duluth.)

There is Walter E. Williams, who is some kind of black libertarian economist/personality who substitutes on radio for Rush Limbaugh.  I occasional get email intended for him.  I always respond and tell the nice folks that they should read my books to find out what’s really happening.

waltnoneckwilliamsPopular 1970s baseball player Walt “No Neck” Williams passed away recently.  Judging by his photos, he really didn’t have a neck.

So many other Walter Williamses were professional athletes that I’m inclined to wonder if I haven’t missed my true calling.  Here’s a partial roster:

American football: Wally Williams (Browns, Ravens, Saints), Walt Williams (Lions and Vikings and Bears, oh my), Walter Williams (Packers).

Baseball: Walter “No Neck” Williams, Pop Williams, Walt Williams (White Sox, Yankees)

Basketball: Walt “the Wizard” Williams, Walter “Sam” Williams (coach).

Australian football: Wal Williams

Water polo: Wally Williams

Bowling: Walter Ray Williams, Jr.

(What, no snooker?)

There were also no less than two Victorian landscape painters named Walter Williams.

MrBill1Plus, of course, there’s Walter Williams the filmmaker who created Mr. Bill.

(I do not receive any of their emails.)

So far there are no other novelists named Walter Williams, though I have been confused in the past with William John Watkins.

Does the name make the man?   Clearly if you want your kid to be a professional athlete, and maybe a landscape painter, you might just want to name him Walter Williams.  (Also, where sports are concerned a colorful nickname never hurts.  I suggest “One-Punch.”)

If you want your kid to be a science fiction writer, you probably don’t want to give him my name, because that’s taken.  Also, you don’t want him confused with William John Watkins.

I’d suggest “Robert H. Heinlein.”  Any confusion would only benefit the kid.

TRX April 19, 2016 at 8:15 am

Well, Sarah Hoyt named one of her children Robert Anson Hoyt… she claims she didn’t realize it was on Heinlein’s birthday.

mearsk April 19, 2016 at 9:38 am

If I had a kid I wanted to turn into a sci-fi writer, the obvious name choice would be “William John Walters.”

TRX April 19, 2016 at 10:40 am

That, or Sybly Whyte…

Just for kicks I googled his name, and while the first hit was “Kinnison & Co. LLC”, the esteemed Mr. Whyte doesn’t show up again, at least not for the next five pages when I gave up.

Yet his most famous character, Qadgop the Mercotan, appears several times on the first page, plus a number of people using the name as an alias. Ah, fame, how fleeting…

Ralf T. Dog April 19, 2016 at 11:16 pm

With all the variations of your name, that you have used to game the gods of book store shelf space, I am surprised you are not five or six of the people on the list.

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