In memory of Dana Point historic chronicler, Doris Walker, residents came together to dedicate the memorial and overlook at Heritage Park carrying her name.
Text and Photo by Andrea Papagianis. Republished with permission from the Dana Point Times, Copyright Picket Fence Media, 2013. All rights reserved.
April’s showers dissipated and the sun shone brightly over the city Tuesday afternoon, as city leaders, family and friends of the late Doris Walker-Smith gathered atop the cliffs at Heritage Park to look back on the “keeper of Dana Point’s” contributions in the telling of local history.
“Through her writings, speeches and involvement in the city, Doris Walker was one of our commissioners that kept history alive in Orange County,” said Pamela Harrell chair of the Orange County Historical Commission.
Overlooking the Dana Point Harbor, a sculpture honoring the historian was unveiled by the City Council with the help of Walker-Smith’s sons, Brent and Blair Walker.
The bronze installation designed by Dana Point artist Christopher Pecharka illustrates quotes from Walker’s many local historical accounts, in the form of a pop-up storybook. Pecharka is also the artist behind the Veteran’s Memorial at Strand Vista Park and the “Top Men” sculpture in the Dana Point Harbor.
“This really means that she is getting properly recognized for her contributions to the area,” said Brent Walker.
Known professionally as Doris I. Walker, the devoted historian wrote numerous accounts of local times gone by, including Dana Point Harbor/Capistrano Bay: Home Port for Romance, considered by some as the “definitive history of the area,” said Mayor Steven Weinberg.
“Like Richard Henry Dana Jr., who described the towering coastal bluffs of Dana Point and the bays below as the only romantic spot on the California coast in his 1840 crossing, Doris Walker-Smith fell in love with the area when she and her husband first moved here in 1963,” Weinberg said to the crowd of 60 people assembled in her memory.
Walker-Smith, 78, and husband Jack Pierson Smith, 81, died after a fire consumed their home on October 30, 2011. Doris, a longtime Orange County resident and award–winning author, and Jack, a retired Marine Corps Major, died from injuries sustained in the fire.
“It’s a real honor,” said Blair Walker, the younger son of Walker-Smith.
“Originally it was unexpected, and we never thought of something like this,” he said. “Then I stopped and listened to people talking about how my Mom deserved it, and I thought ‘Yes, she really does,’ and we are happy to be here.”
The sculpture is placed in the area of Heritage Park, 33282 Old Golden Lantern, known as Compass Point, which was also dedicated in the storyteller’s name, as the Doris Walker Overlook. The memorial joins the fountain at La Plaza Park and the planned “Kelp Forrest” sculpture at Lantern Bay Park, in the city’s recent efforts to expand its public art portfolio.
“It is important for us today,” Harrell said, “but even more for those in the future who visit the site and delve into the history of Dana Point, and at the same time learn about a woman who was remarkable in its telling.”
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