Norman Walker Really Died at Age 99

My Genealogy Search on Dr. Norman Wardhaugh Walker

by Kathryn Friesen

Dr. Walker has been described as "the longest lived, most widely known, raw food faddist of the modern era." He was also the author of many books on health (some still in print), and the developer of The Norwalk Juicer, which is still on the market.

My personal interest in him piqued when I found so many different longevity ages attributed to him (variously, 109, 113, 118 and 4 months, 120, and even 130 years!), and decided to discover "the truth" about this aspect of Dr. Walker and perhaps something of his background and early life.

Some of the research sources I used were a published "Eulogy" by Donald Woodside (Dr. Walker's book publisher), various genealogy search sites and forums, Ellis Island ship manifest records, and some government data bases. I was, of course, at a disadvantage, never having personally known either Dr. Walker or any of the individuals associated with his life. In the end, it was an interesting experience.

Norman Wardhaugh Walker was born in Genoa, Italy, on January 4, 1886, to Reverend Robert Walker and Lydia (Maiden Name: Maw) Walker. His father was from Scotland and a clergyman/missionary, apparently "posted" to Italy for many years as at least five of the six Walker children were born in that country. Norman's mother, by all accounts, was from England. The six Walker children, in birth order, were comprised of Elizabeth, Norman, David Arthur, Emmelina, Lydia and Robert H. Walker.

England's 1901 Census places Norman, at age 15, in that country as a "boarder" in a boardinghouse with several other young men, wherein he gave his occupation as "clerk" and his birth place as "Italy."

In 1907 Rev. and Mrs. Walker immigrated to America, and specifically New York City, on the "The Konigin Luise" via Genoa Italy, giving their last residence at Ellis Island as Florence, Italy. Two of their children, Lydia Ellene (15) and Robert (13), accompanied by what I assume was a paid governess/traveling companion, followed three months later, sailing on "The Batavia," also via Genoa. The following year, a second daughter, Emmelina (18) joined them, sailing from Liverpool, England, on "The Umbria" under the name "Lina Walker."

Norman's other brother, David Arthur Walker, arrived in NY via England on the "Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse" on August 3, 1910. I don't have any information on the Walkers' eldest child, Elizabeth, and when she arrived in America, but according to Rev. Walker's obituary in the Berkeley, CA Daily Gazette in July of 1917 (in which city he was interim pastor of The North Congregational Church and where he died) all members of the Walker family were residents of the United States at his death.

The prime subject of this genealogy project, Norman W. Walker arrived in the U.S, sailing from Liverpool, England, aboard "The Lusitania" in October of 1910. He was then 25 years of age, and gave his final destination in his ship interview as 608 Lexington Avenue, New York City, where the Walker family presumably lived.

His whereabouts, occupation, etc. for several years after his 1910 arrival are unknown to me, but 1915 found him residing in Lake MaLopac, Carmel, New York, where he filed a Declaration of Intention to become a U. S. citizen. He gave his occupation as "Real Estate" in the Declaration.

Three years later -- again living in New York City and now married to a "Margaret Olcott" -- he completed the citizenship process by filing a Petition for Naturalization., and subsequently became a U. S. citizen on November 22, 1918. In September of that year, he also registered for the WWI draft, wherein he stated his employer was Douglas Products Corp., New York City, a manufacturer of airplane instruments. He was then 33 years old.

That about completes my information on the family background and early years of Dr. Norman Wardhaugh Walker.

As to his longevity, he died at his home in Verde Valley/Cottonwood, Arizona, on June 6, 1985, at the age of 99 years, five months.

His brief newspaper obituary said that only his wife, Helen Ruth, survived him. Both Dr. Walker and Helen Ruth (who died in 1993) are buried in the "Cottonwood Cemetery." A photo of their joint gravestone (with "their years" now chiseled in granite) is accessible on-line at

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