Salina Loses Businessman / Philanthropist Charlie Walker
KSAL Staff - Sat 10:46 AM 04/28/2012
Salina businessman and philanthropist Charlie Walker passed away Friday.
The 79-year-old Walker was the founder of several business franchises, most notably Blue Beacon Truck Washes and Green Lantern Car Wash and Convenience Stores.
In 1999 Walker opened the Rolling Hills Zoo. The facility features over 90 species of rare and endangered animals. In 2005 he added a 64,000-square-foot Wildlife Museum. The museum integrates over 300 species of animals with nature and human cultures. Now called Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, the zoo and museum attract over 150,000 visitors a year to the Salina area.
In 2001 Walker opened a non-profit facility for teens called “The City”.
The Walker family was the leading contributor to a state of the art cancer facility in Salina. The Tammy Walker Cancer Center is named for a daughter who lost a battle with cancer at the age of 11.
Within the past several months Walker gave gifts to the Salina Military Affairs Council and the Coronado Area Council Boy Scouts.
Salina Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dennis Lauver tells KSAL News that Walker was a self made-man, who gave back to the community in so many ways. Lauver says "he was a man of faith, family, and community". He adds that Walker was a humble man who would probably be embarassed about all of the attention he is receiving.
Walker was inducted into the Salina Business Hall of Fame in 2005.