Walter Theodore Hayden was born on June 24, 1926 in Tuskegee, AL to the late Rev. Charles Douglas Hayden and Maude Evelyn (Mcleod) Hayden. His father was the Chaplain at Tuskegee University at the time and his mother was a school teacher. He was the ninth of ten children. In 1944, he graduated from Parker High School in Birmingham, AL then moved to Fort Wayne, IN to attend IU Extension (IPFW).
Walter met the love of his life, Ernestine Thomas, and they had their first date on September 1, 1944. Much of the courtship was by mail from then on because Walter joined the Army and served overseas during World War II. After Walter's discharge from the Army, the couple enrolled in the same psychology class at IPFW and often studied together. Walter and Ernestine were married on September 5, 1947 and to this union, nine children were born.
Over the years, Walter drove semi-trucks, sold insurance, worked in the Fort Wayne Foundry, GTE, Sears Automotive and in the Kresge Warehouse. From 1961-1964, he was manager of the Star Bowling Alley which became a meeting and secret sheltering place for civil rights workers during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL. Walter moved his family back to Fort Wayne, IN in 1964 and founded Diamond Point Printing in the basement of his home. He bought the Unique Cards Company and produced his own Black greeting cards with an emphasis on Christmas cards. Later, he opened the Unique Cards and Gift Shop at 1339 E. Creighton Street. Diamond Point Printing relocated to 612 Oxford Street and then to 4220 S. Hanna Street. For several summers, he operated Diamond Dairy King, an ice cream shop at 607 Oxford St. Starting in 1994, Walter published six annual issues of the award winning Fort Wayne Black Pages & Professional Directory and was an active member of The Black Pages Publishers Association. When Diamond Point Printing closed its doors in 1996, Express Print & Copy was born at the Hanna Street location. In 2009, Walter owned and operated a mobile Power Washing Service. Then in 2014, he opened his last entrepreneurial venture. At Walt’s Snack Shack, he roasted and fried Peanuts, popped Gourmet Popcorn, and served other snacks. No matter what business he started, he always had the interests of family and the community at heart and he made every effort to exemplify Quality in products and services at reasonable prices.
Walter was a member of Turner Chapel A.M.E. Church for many years then he joined Faith United Methodist Church where he served as Trustee.
Walter loved to bowl and on December 10, 1994, he bowled his first perfect game of 300 at the age of 68. In addition, Walter loved to go fishing, cook with the latest gadgets and work in his garden. He was a Lifetime NAACP member and past member of the Urban League.
He leaves to cherish his memory, nine children, Linda (Ralph) Jones, Donald (Eileen) Hayden, Steven (Kathy) Hayden, Tracey (Vanessa) Hayden, Michael (Della) Hayden, Anita Hayden and Janet (Bernard) Williams, all of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Ronald (Prophetess) Hayden of Weatherford, Texas, James Brett (Brenda) Hayden of Charlotte, North Carolina; sisters-in-law, Catherine W. Hayden and Lovie J. Hayden, 40 grandchildren, 70 great grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 70 years, Ernestine Hayden; seven brothers, Charles, Alvon, John, Fred, Harrison, Andrew and William “Bill”; two sisters, Jettie Thompkins and Vernon Howell, three grandchildren and one great grandchild.
In lieu of flowers family requests memorial donations to the Fort Wayne Boys & Girls Club.
Mr. Hayden will be laid to rest with his wife in Marion National Cemetery