R. B. Walden
| Robert B. Walden|
(Attorney who headed the Louisiana Department of Hospitals
|Born|| April 14, 1901 |
Terry, Hinds County
|Died|| February 6, 1966 (aged 64) |
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Spouse|| Lillian Cordill Walden (married 1924-1966, his death)|
Robert B. Walden, also known as R. B. Walden (April 14, 1901 – February 6, 1966), was the director of the Louisiana Department of Hospitals, who after congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, directed the desegregation of the network of state charity hospitals.
Walden was born in Terry in Hinds County near the capital city of Jackson, Mississippi. His family thereafter moved to Winnsboro in Franklin Parish in northeast Louisiana, where In 1918, Walden graduated from Winnsboro High School and then obtained both his Bachelor of Arts and law degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. On June 18, 1924, he married in Winnsboro the former Lillian Cordill (1902-1996). The couple had two daughters.
A Democrat, Walden first practiced law in Winnsboro, of which he was the mayor from 1926 to 1934. He became an attorney for the Louisiana State Hospital Board and hence relocated in 1940 to Baton Rouge, where he was assistant secretary of the Louisiana Tax Commission and chairman of State Employees Retirement System. He organized the Department of Hospitals Credit Union, the largest among the state employee groups, and he was the president of the credit union for many years. In 1948, he was named acting director of Louisiana Civil Service, the system of employee regulations and protections launched in 1940 by the New Orleans attorney Charles E. Dunbar. During the administration of Governor Robert F. Kennon, Walden was general counsel for the civil service department. Kennon and Walden had both been young mayors in the middle 1920s, Walden in Winnsboro and Kennon in Minden.
In June 1964, Governor John J. McKeithen, who the previous year ended Robert Kennon's hopes of a gubernatorial comeback, named Walden director of the Department of Hospitals. He launched improvements in mental hospitals and construction of facilities for the mentally retarded. In addition to ordering integration of the facilities, he helped to establish the framework for the Medicare program in Louisiana but died less than a year after U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the measure into law.
Walden was a member of the First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge and was affiliated with the Masonic lodge and the Shriners. He was also a member of Delta Sigma Chi, Phi Delta Phi, Lambda Chi Alpha and the state and local bar associations.
The Waldens are interred at Roselawn Memorial Park in Baton Rouge.
- Walden, R. B.. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved on November 13, 2019.
- The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, February 7, 1966.