Walter Grant Becknell, born May 25, 1924 in Bourbon, Indiana, died Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at the age of 88 in Sentara Hospital, Hampton.
In one of the unusual chapters of Gloucester history, an Indiana farm boy, Walter Becknell, took up his camera, came to Virginia and spent the second half of the 20th century putting on the record a visual history of his adopted hometown. Along the way he attended Bible college, had a family, and created a huge portfolio of life in Tidewater Virginia. One large part of his work was taken from the air. "Hi-Vues by Becknell," documented the landscape in the 1950s and ’60s.
He opened his business, Becknell’s Studio in Maryus, in 1956 and started working at the Gazette-Journal three days a week, working in the darkroom developing film, making prints, and preparing photographs.
Walter went to work at the Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown as a photographer in 1966, getting secret clearance and keeping a photographic record of top-secret weapons and other happenings. He kept working part-time at the newspaper for some years, going into the office after his regular NWS job and getting the darkroom work done.
In 1969 Walter married Margie Haywood Gibbs and they enjoyed 42 years together. After retiring from the NWS in 1986, Walter returned to the Gazette-Journal and retired for the second time in 2002.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Burl and Lois Becknell; brother, James Becknell; wife, Margie Becknell, and son, Kevin Becknell.
He is survived by his son, Gary Becknell and wife Claudia; brother, Joe Becknell; sister, Carol Young; and grandchildren, Jessica Becknell and Garet Becknell, and step-granddaughter, Jennifer Black.
Graveside memorial service conducted by the Rev. W. Donald Ambrose was held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013, in Rosewell Memorial Garden Cemetery.
In Walter’s memory and for his love of birds, contributions may be sent to the Northern Neck Audubon Society, P.O. Box 991, Kilmarnock, Va. 22482.
Arrangements were by Hogg Funeral Home and Crematory, Gloucester Point.