Walter B. Echols


Walter Bernard Echols was born to James and Leola (Jennings) Echols on March 16, 1937, in Cincinnati, Ohio and was the seventh of nine children.

Mr. Echols attended Douglass Elementary and Withrow High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. As an avid tennis player, Walter played for and graduated from Fisk University in 1964.

Walter, a Airforce Veteran, had a very successful career with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections where he worked for over 30 years. Notably, he served as Warden of the Corrections Reception Center and made history by becoming the first African- American warden in the state of Ohio.

Walter was a very active person who was a member of the National Association for the Advance of Colored People, Ohio Wardens Association, Ohio Courts and Corrections Association, American Corrections Association and served as President of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.

In addition to tennis, Walter loved the game golf. He was a gentle, spiritual, supportive man with a great sense of humor and loved his family dearly. Walter departed this life on December 12, 2014.
Although we weep and morn his passing, we are comforted as he joins his brother, Ronald Echols and parents. Walter leaves behind his wonderful wife, LaDonna; Two beloved brothers, Rev. James (Shirley) Echols of Chicago, and Vernon Echols of Daytona Beach, FL; Four caring sisters, Dorothy Rodgers, Margie McGuire, Florence Hawkins and Barbara Fields of Cincinnati, OH; One sister-in-law, Diane (Michael) Rouse of Columbus, OH; Two doting daughters, Dawn (Georges) Van Hoegarden of Chapel Hill, NC and LaNier Echols of Indianapolis, IN. One step-daughter Kinshasta Reed of Louisville, KY; Three loving step-sons Gregory (Kashmira) Smith of Philadelphia, PA, LaMont Reed of Louisville, KY and Michael Jones of Columbus, OH; Four beautiful grandchildren Aaliyah Jones, Nimah Smith, Giselle Van Hoegarden and Kasim Smith.
Visitation 11:00am and Memorial Service 12:00 noon Saturday December 20, 2014 at Unity Church of Christianity 4211 Maize Rd. Flowers should be sent to the church. Arrangements entrusted to MARLAN J. GARY FUNERAL HOME, THE CHAPEL OF PEACE 2500 Cleveland Ave.

Condolence Messages

  1. Please allow me to offer my condolences for your lost. Be assured that you will see him again. John 5:28,29, and Rev. 21: 3,4. One day man’s greatest enemy will be done away with. 1 Corinthians 15:26. For more information about God’s promises visit

  2. Patricia Barnes-Frye

    We send up our prayers for the Echols Family. Sonny, as we always called him, was a part of the neighborhood that most of us grew up in. His accomplishments were achievements that reflect the goodness of Walnut Hills residients, and he was certainly a role model for us. William (Junior) & Juanita, life long Cincinnati friends, and Patricia (Pat) Barnes – Frye (Alpharetta, GA) want all of you to Trust in the Lord to guide you through this homegoing and time of sorrow, knowing that weeping will turn to smiles in the days ahead.

  3. My sincere condolences to Walt’s family and friends. I worked with him in DRC for several years. He was always a gentleman, a class act, and a mentor to many. May he rest in peace.
    Rex Zent
    DRC 1971-96

  4. I was so sorry to hear of Walt’s passing. I worked in classification when CRC opened in 1987. There were problems to iron out and Walt was up to the challenge. He was a good boss and a nice person. Sorry for your loss.

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