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For John Walden Jr. '62, KAO Was—and Still Is—Superior to the Rest

It says a lot about a group of brothers when a new pledge finds them to be, by far, the most outstanding group at the University of Georgia. But that is just what happened when John Walden Jr. visited the Kappa Alpha Order during Rush in 1961.

“I thought the young men at Kappa Alpha were the friendliest and most genuine of all the fraternities I visited,” John recalls.

Realizing that his first impression was accurate, John was pleased to join the fraternity and become part of this special group of young men.

Moving into the house for his sophomore year, John quickly found it necessary to hold himself accountable for his schoolwork, which wasn’t always easy to do.

“Living in the house was fun, but studying was a challenge,” he admits. “It was difficult for me to learn that I did not have to say ‘yes’ to every invite to have a beer in the afternoon!”

Kappa Alpha has done a lot for me in my life, and I feel blessed to be able to contribute to ensure that the future generations will be afforded the same opportunities.

Fortunately, John always had roommate (Will Kidd ’60) to confide in, lean on, and keep him on the right track.

“Will was also my ‘Big Brother’ my freshman year and served as Treasurer for the Chapter,” John remembers. “He set a good example for me in how to learn and play. He was a lifelong friend until his early death from the onset of dementia.”

In addition to Will, John fondly recalls the memories and friendships that were built during his years at Kappa Alpha.

“I remember the bus trip to the Georgia vs. Florida game my freshman year when the rule was if you could carry it in, you could have it!” he says, laughing. “But seriously, during my time at Kappa Alpha, there were friendships forged which have lasted throughout my lifetime. Joe Manderson ’59 and Charlie Bryan ’59 were good friends in college and later as we matured into adults. Wesley Harris ’60 is also a good friend. Charlie has since passed on, but Joe lives here and I see him occasionally. Wesley lives in Florida, so we connect on the phone.”

As a member of KAO, John is fortunate to have had great mentors in his older brothers, providing him with real-life illustrations of living the cornerstone Christian values of the fraternity.

“The examples set by my Kappa Alpha brothers, who were honest and had strong work ethics, were good role models for me and made an indelible impression,” he says. “Those years at Kappa Alpha were formative and the Christian values definitely made an impact on my life.”

Throughout his post-college years, John has lived those values, serving as Junior and Senior Warden and Chairman of Finance and Stewardship at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, as well as extensive involvement with the Diocese of Atlanta, including the Stewardship Committee, Diocesan Foundation, and the Long-Term Investment Committee.

In addition to his volunteer service, John has spent the last 30 years in the brokerage business and money management, still working to this day. He is active on many boards, including EMI Industries and Sterling Funding LLC in Tampa, Florida, as well as Aglytix in Mankato, Minnesota. He and his wife, Sally Kimbrough, have two children, Sarah and John III, both of whom attended the University of Georgia.

Taking trips down memory lane and returning to campus and the house (both old and new) have always been a pleasant experience for John.

“I have visited the old Kappa Alpha house at 294 South Lumpkin and the new house on West Hancock Avenue,” he says. “Housekeeping at the new house has improved from the old days! Every time I go back, the young men at Kappa Alpha have always been courteous and welcoming.”

Each visit reminds John of the important role KAO played in his life, which is the reason giving back to the Chapter is so important to John.

“Kappa Alpha has done a lot for me in my life,” he says, “and I feel blessed to be able to contribute to ensure that the future generations will be afforded the same opportunities.”

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