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home : life and style : life and style July 22, 2014

4/10/2014 11:05:00 AM
Bill Walker to address Pee Dee Genealogical Society

The Pee Dee rivers have been sources of transportation, food, and recreation for people in South Carolina for centuries. At the meeting of the Pee Dee Chapter, S.C. Genealogical Society on April 13, Dr. William “Bill” Walker will use slides in his presentation based on a new book, “Down The Little Pee Dee – Paddling South Carolina’s Legendary Blackwater River.” With his cousin, Dr. L.L. “Chick” Gaddy, naturalist, author and expert on Southeastern flora, fauna and wildlife, the book was written after a series of their trips covering the entire 109 mile length of the river from its headwaters at Red Bluff Lake in Marlboro County to the junction with the Great Pee Dee River near the coast.

A noted journalist, author, photographer, and pilot, Bill Walker’s slides depict the beauty and danger of the river and give an aerial view of some historic areas, such as Woodberry Township in Marion County. “We have a second book on the river coming out later this year,” he notes. It will be a more specific river guide focusing on what can be learned about the environmental and cultural and historical aspects of the Little Pee Dee.” Some of this information will be included in his presentation. The Sunday meeting will be held at 3 p.m. at the new Marion Fire Station on Senator Gasque Road, part of the Old Mullins Highway that runs parallel to Hwy. 76 east of Marion. A native of Nichols, William Walker is a graduate of Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, and Ruprecht-Karls-Unversitat in Heidelberg, Germany, where he earned a Ph.D. in East European history.

He has worked as a reporter and editor in the United States and Europe for more than four decades and has written and edited for daily newspapers on assignments in over 50 countries. Walker first worked at daily newspapers in South Carolina and as a news editor for the Associated Press. He began a 28-year career with the newspaper “Stars and Stripes” at Darmstadt, Germany, as a reporter in 1973 and was worldwide executive editor of the newspaper when he retired in 2002. He directed the newspaper’s coverage of the NATO peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo. He traveled extensively throughout the former Yugoslavia during the previous 30 years. More than two million people were forced from their homes by the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, the most violent chapter in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. His book “German and Bosnian Voices in a Time of Crisis” tells the story of what happened to these refugees during the war years and afterwards. Germany provided sanctuary for nearly 350,000 Bosnians fleeing the fighting.

The author, a journalist who lived in Germany for more than 30 years, interviewed hundreds of refugees, humanitarian aid workers, politicians and ordinary Germans in reconstructing the story of the Bosnians in Germany. Walker wrote the book as his doctoral dissertation in East European History at Heidelberg University where he earned a Ph.D. with honors in 2009. He notes that the initial inspiration to write the book came from the many afternoons spent listening to refugees in Germany as they futilely sought to understand the war and devastation it brought to Bosnia.

“The experience of being a refugee and the hardship and loss of that time period proved the single greatest emotional experience for many of those individuals,” Walker writes. The book resonates with the emotions of the refugees struggling to make new lives for themselves and their families. The public is invited to the meeting. Directions: From Hwy. 76, turn onto Palmetto Pointe Road at the stoplight across from Dollar General and McDonalds. Turn right onto Senator Gasque Road. The fire station is located on the right, across from Richardson’s Funeral Home. There is ample parking around the building, including the back where the meeting room entrance is located.

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