Don Walden

Student, Tower

00:00 / 10:20
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Don Walden was a 22-year-old UT-Austin student in August of 1966. He graduated the following May with an English degree.

Walden is known as one-half of the “luckiest couple in Austin,” along with Cheryl Botts Dickerson. Walden met Botts Dickerson the day before the shooting at the Continental bus station where he worked; he invited her to visit the campus with him that Monday.

Their first stop was the UT Tower.

Walden and Botts Dickerson were on the observation deck when Charles Whitman attacked receptionist Edna Townsley and hid her body behind a couch. When Walden and Botts Dickerson re-entered the tower lobby, they saw Whitman holding a gun in each hand.

The pair just kept walking and talking: they made eye contact with Whitman and exchanged pleasantries, but didn’t stop to think about what might be happening. They even stepped over a puddle of what turned out to be Townsley’s blood, not realizing the horror they had stumbled across.

Walden and Botts Dickerson made their way to the bottom of the Tower safely. Later, they took shelter in another building after realizing the man they met earlier had opened fire on campus.