February 12, 1948-November 1, 2015
Hugh Wallace “Wally” Walthall, Poet, Actor, Playwright, and Publisher
Hugh Wallace “Wally” Walthall, 67, poet, actor, playwright, publisher, and long-time Washington, D.C., resident, died November 1, of complications from diabetes. Mr. Walthall was born in Roswell, New Mexico, only a few months after the “aliens” were said to have landed there, and as a young a child moved with his family to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. He made his way to Washington in the late 1960s, where he had a large circle of literary minded friends. His poems have been published in Washington Review, Shenandoah, American Review, Gargoyle, and the G.W. Review. He sometimes published under the name Steamboat Jones. In 1978, Mr. Walthall’s first book of poetry, ladidah, was published by Ithaca House.
Mr. Walthall was the founding publisher/editor of Sultan of Swat (SOS) Books, which in the 1980s published books of poetry by local D.C. area poets. SOS Books was financed by a small class action settlement that Mr. Walthall was awarded for having been the subject of an illegal arrest during an anti-war protest. He was also the publisher/editor of the Journal of Pomposity and Shoddy Thinking and of Sex with Frankenstein, each of which lasted one issue. In the 1990s he began studying acting at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and appearing in plays at the Studio Theatre SecondStage. His play, Jean Stafford’s Theory of the Lindbergh Kidnapping, was staged there. Mr. Walthall worked most recently at the library of the Walter Reed Hospital. He retired when the library was closed. Mr. Walthall had an impressive record collection of jazz, Western, and early folk music. He was a baseball aficionado, and was especially fond of the Baltimore Orioles.