Walter Kenneth Bunge died peacefully on Sept. 9, at his home in Lexington, S.C. He was 84 and a former Vineyard resident.

He was born on Feb. 4, 1931 in Madison, S.D. to the Rev. and Mrs. Arnold and Esther (Taeuber) Bunge. Walter is survived by his wife of 59 years, Judith; children John and his wife Mary Beth, Chris, Beth and Carolyn; grandchildren Avalon, Lexus, Walter Chase, Sophie, Jack, Kameron and Kobe; brother Ralph and his wife Paula; sister Connie (Gerd) Bents and sister in law Mary Bunge. He was predeceased by his brothers David and Richard.

Walter served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in the Korean War. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and then a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He also received a certificate from the Sorbonne University in Paris.

In his career Walter received many awards, including the Gannett Foundation Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Journalism and Mass Communication, the African-American Media Association Award and the Cruise Palmer Distinguished Professor in Journalism at Kansas State University.

After vacationing on the Island for years, Walter and Judith moved to the Vineyard full-time in 1999, settling in the Dark Woods neighborhood in Edgartown. They left 13 years later to be closer to children and grandchildren in South Carolina, but Martha’s Vineyard remained their favorite place. Walter was active as a volunteer at a number of organizations, including the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

Walter was known as a person of great integrity, whose decisions were based on what is right and not just what is expedient. He strongly believed in the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. He was beloved by many, especially his family, for the strength of his character and for his accepting, loving and gentle nature. He will be sadly missed but leaves a long-lasting legacy.

A celebration of Walter’s life is planned for Saturday, Nov. 28 at Chilmark Community Church at 2:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his memory to a charity of your choice, or to Investigative Reporters and Editors,; or Jeff Bridges’ No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength, P.O. Box 75475, Baltimore, MD 21275,, or 800-222-1767.