2020 BSC Legacy Family Leroy & Louise Walker Family | Bismarck State College

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2020 BSC Legacy Family Leroy & Louise Walker Family

A LEGACY OF BSC AND BUSINESS

BY KIM SINGER

 

Scan2.jpgIn 1933, LeRoy Walker’s father, C.M. (Charles), began Walkers n’ Daughters Jewelers, which now has two locations in Bismarck. Along with carrying on the family business, LeRoy is the patriarch of another family tradition – attending BSC. His four children with wife Louise, and two of their grandchildren are alumni, plus one of their great-grandchildren, Lucas Rasmussen, is a current student.

 

After graduating from BSC in 1949, LeRoy earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin. He served in the Army for two years, then worked in Maryland. He was able to move back home thanks to a job offer from the Amoco (now Marathon) Refinery in Mandan. Not long after, he began working alongside his father and expanded the business from being strictly watch repair to selling jewelry as well.

In 1970, LeRoy began taking lessons from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) through the mail, how distance learning happened back then. He passed the courses to earn his graduate gemologist title in record time. He also became a certified gemologist through the American Gem Society. Since then, Walkers n’ Daughters Jewelers has specialized in ideal cut diamonds, which uses a mathematical calculation to create the ultimate sparkle and brilliance.

“Now we are getting into custom design and it’s so exciting to see the transformation of what someone has in their mind to see and hold the finished product. I love it,” said Susan Walker-Weiand (‘77), one of the Walkers’ daughters and a member of the BSC Foundation Board of Directors.

Louise was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest, Sharon (Walker) Hanson (‘80), started school. Then, she worked at the store doing sales and the books. She also became a registered jeweler. “It was because of her we have generational clients. She was very good at listening to customers, who often tell me, ‘I remember coming into the store when I was younger and always being treated so well.’ I hope to continue that,” shared Walker-Weiand, who manages the Kirkwood Mall store.

Years later, the Walkers expanded their business yet again to also specialize in clocks with LeRoy doing repairs. Unfortunately, about a decade ago, he developed macular degeneration and could not see well enough to continue working on them.

With LeRoy and Louise now retired, their children and grandchildren have carried on the jewelry and clockwork business. In addition to daughter Walker-Weiand, their son-in-law, Larry Weiand, is the clock manager performing repairs. Every summer, he travels throughout North Dakota and its three surrounding states to repair grandfather clocks. Their son, Alan Walker (‘73), went on from BSC to earn his graduate gemology title from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and performs grading and identifications on gems and diamonds, and repairs watches. Granddaughter Lanette (Weiand) Rasmussen (’00) is a part-time office manager, and granddaughter Jennifer (Weiand) Froehlich (’01) works at the store part-time doing sales in-person and online. Prior to retiring, their daughter, Karen Walker Zimmer (’74), earned a registered jewelers title from the GIA and spent a couple years working at the store.

Attending BSC went hand-in-hand with running their business. “Growing up, we all took turns working in the store. That’s another reason why BSC was so important to us. We could continue to help at the store while getting a great education,” added Walker-Weiand.

LeRoy was one of the first Alumni Association board members, but when Walker-Weiand told her parents they had been named the 2020 BSC Legacy Family, she said they were absolutely stunned and so was she. “Wow, this was never expected. We are just quietly living our lives and trying to do what is best and what God wants us to.”