The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

College Sports

February 15, 2013

‘Everybody loved him’

AU community mourns death of student athlete, artist

ANDERSON, Ind. — Xavier Walton was a 6-foot, 2-inch defensive lineman with the soul of an artist.

At Anderson University, they called him ‘X.’

“Everybody loved him,” said professor Kathleen Dugan, who taught Walton in two classes this semester.

“It’s just so hard to believe he’s gone,” she said.  

Thursday night, Walton, a sophomore visual communication design major from Gary, collapsed while playing intramural basketball in AU’s Kardatzke Wellness Center. He was taken to Community Hospital Anderson, where he was pronounced dead at 10:03 p.m.

Less than an hour later, about 300 students had gathered in Reardon Auditorium.

“What’s incredible is the type of people who showed up,” said art professor Arlon Bayliss, who taught Walton’s 3-dimensional design class last year. “People from the art department, athletes, all these different people who had something to share.”

The students held hands, sang and took turns telling stories into a microphone.

Freshman art major Ellen Wuethrich spoke about a night last semester when she was working late in the art department. Walton walked her home.

“When we got there, I didn’t have my keys,” she said. “He stayed with me until I got them. He probably didn’t get home until like 5 a.m.”

As she spoke, Wuethrich spread white paint along a wall in the Jessie C. Wilson Gallery — a makeshift memorial where students can leave notes and drawings.

In one, the word “Xavier” was surrounded by clouds and enveloped with angels’ wings, painted by freshman Kaitlyn Phipps.

The memorial was part of an impromptu showcase of Walton’s sculpture, charcoal and mixed-media work from this semester.

“This is all we could find,” Dugan said. “The rest of it’s with his grandmother in Gary.”

In one work, a standing figure rests against the back of another figure’s chair. A mix of soft, yellow and blue paint strokes and aggressive charcoal lines, it’s almost metaphoric of Walton’s conflicting passions.

“He was a teddy bear,” Dugan said. “But he was apparently very aggressive” on the football field.

No. 95 Walton, was a 245-pound defensive lineman who lettered in football as a freshman. Friday night, football players and staff held a prayer vigil in his memory.

“Xavier was a strong Christian and a wonderful teammate,” said head coach Bobby Ladner, “The team and coaches loved him a great deal.”

The art department also held a vigil Friday night as a “private, family time to process in a safe place,” Bayliss said.

Late Friday, there was no clear cause of death, said Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay. An official ruling could take several weeks pending a microscopic tissue evaluation and standard toxicology report.

In the meantime, all of  the campus mourns his loss, Anderson University president Dr. James Edwards said.

“We are all deeply saddened that such a promising young man would pass from us,” he said. “But we celebrate all we have come to know about him and hold his family, classmates, roommates, teammates, and his many friends in our love and prayers.”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

1
Text Only
College Sports
  • spt_delaney.jpg Big Ten commissioner paints dire picture of paying players

    The head of the Big Ten painted a dire picture Friday of what college sports would look like if players were paid. He said his conference likely would cease to exist and the Rose Bowl probably would not be played.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0604 - Lopresti art Mike Lopresti: Hoosiers' high hopes end in heartbreak

    Caring comes with a catch; how lousy it feels to lose. Indiana University was just reminded of that.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mike Lopresti: Hoosiers bitten by fickle fate They said they're not shattered. They said they'll be back, as surely as Monday follows Sunday. They said this was one loss, and that happens in baseball.

    June 1, 2014

  • SPT - HB0510 - Frazier. Nicole AU softball team loses two to end season

    The Anderson University bats fell silent in day two of the NCAA Division III softball regional and as a result, the Ravens are headed home, finishing the season at 30-9.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Frazier's slam lifts AU into regional second round

    Anderson University junior Nichole Frazier hit a walk-off grand slam home run in the seventh inning to lift the Ravens to a 9-5 victory over Fontbonne Friday.

    May 10, 2014

  • spt_utahfightsong.jpg Utah president backs review of fight song

    After more than a century of singing "I'm a Utah Man," some say it's time to update the University of Utah's 1904 fight song.

    May 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ravens softball team heads to Illinois for regionals The Anderson University softball team, fresh off winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference season and tournament titles, Monday morning learned of its next hurdle.

    May 6, 2014

  • SPT - HB0504 - AU softball - DK - 113 Ravens dump Bluffton, win HCAC softball title All of them had a shot. All of them went down in flames. The Anderson University softball team finished as dominating a performance as the conference has seen in a while with a 13-4 victory over Bluffton to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament here Saturday.

    May 3, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0503 - AU softball - DK - 080 AU unbeaten in tourney

    The Ravens posted a 4-1 win over Transylvania in the opening contest and then buried the Rose-Hulman Engineers with their own poorly designed shovels 12-3 in the nightcap.

    May 2, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPT - HB0502 - AU softball Sami Frazier AU top seeds in HCAC softball tourney Anderson University's softball team has dominated the regular season of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference but the Ravens know that is no guarantee for the tournament.

    May 1, 2014 2 Photos