‘A sad loss’: Former Winthrop department chair, ‘exceptional’ artist dies after fall

Winthrop University

A former Winthrop University department chair has died due to injuries related to a fall, according to a statement from the school.

Jerry Walden, Emeritus Professor of Art, died Wednesday at his Rock Hill home, according to Winthrop.

Walden’s wife, Kathy Lyon, is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Winthrop and is the former director of the Winthrop University Honors Program. Walden’s son Robert is an artist.

Walden joined Winthrop in 1995 as the chair of the art and design department. ­­­­­Walden retired from Winthrop in December 2006 after 11 years of service, according to the university.

Walden spent more than 40 years as a dedicated artist, according to Winthrop. His works are in multiple private and public collections.

“Jerry was an outstanding artist, recognized both nationally and internationally for his work,” reads the statement.

Alf Ward, who met Walden when he joined Winthrop in 1995, described Walden’s works as “exceptional.”

Ward came to Winthrop in 1989 and was chair of the art and design department before Walden took over, he said. Ward still teaches art part-time at Winthrop.

“(Jerry) was so positive and excited,” Ward said. “His caring was all about the students and their success. He was really inspiring as a chairperson.”

Winthrop Professor Emeritus Tom Stanley took over as chair of the fine arts department in 2007. He retired in 2017 after 27 years of service to the university.

“I began to realize everything he did,” Stanley said of Walden’s work as department chair. “He did his job very well and I think very efficiently.”

Walden also served as a judge and juror for regional art exhibits and was a member of the S.C. Arts Alliance, according to Winthrop. He was an on-site evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Walden earned his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Auburn University and a master’s in fine arts from the University of Georgia. Walden’s education focused on painting, according to Winthrop.

Walden taught painting and printmaking at Delta State University and the University of Southern Mississippi before taking the role at Winthrop.

Walden “contributed in many ways to the success of our art and design programs and the vibrant arts community that we all still benefit from today,” reads the statement from Winthrop.

Walden focused on his art full time after retiring from education, Ward said. Some of his work is on display at his son’s gallery in New York.

“It’s inspiring to see that,” Ward said. “They were just exceptional pieces. It’s a sad loss.”

Stanley said he will miss Walden’s advise and “miss now getting to see what would have happened next with his work and his life.”

The visitation to honor Jerry’s memory will be Monday evening, Sept. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Greene Funeral Home’s Northwest Chapel.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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