Boise native Wayne Walker, who spent 15 years in the NFL as a linebacker for the Detroit Lions and then several years in the Bay Area as a sports broadcaster, died Friday from complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 80 years old.
Walker played football at Boise High School, graduating in 1954. He then went to the University of Idaho and was college roommates with another Idaho legend, Jerry Kramer.
He was a three-time NFL All-Pro, appearing in 200 games for the Lions.
After retiring from football, Walker was the sports director for KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco for twenty years, from 1974 to 1994. He was also a sports commentator for the San Francisco 49ers' radio broadcasts for over twenty years and a commentator on Oakland Athletics baseball broadcasts from 1976 to 1980 and 1985; he teamed up with fellow southern Idahoan Killebrew in 1979. Walker was also a color commentator on regional NFL games for several years on CBS.
Walker retired from broadcasting in 1999 and he and his wife Sylvia resided in the Boise area since 1994. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2007 but by 2009 he was healthy again. In October 2015, Walker announced that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, possibly as a result of the many concussions he suffered during his playing days.
In December 1999, Walker was ninth on the Sports Illustrated list of greatest sports figures from Idaho.
Mr. Walker is survived by his wife, Sylvia, sons Steve and Doug and daughter Kathy, and eight grandchildren. A celebration of his life is pending.