Walter Adrien Dionne


Died September 10, 1968

College: Jonathan Edwards

Walter Adrien (“Nickelo”) Dionne sang second tenor in the JEsters, the Yale Glee Club and The Whiffenpoofs of 1961. He majored in architecture as an undergraduate. At the end of his junior year, he was accepted into the honors program, which meant that, in his senior year in Yale College, he was allowed to take a full load of first-year graduate courses at theYale School of Architecture.

In the summer that followed graduation from Yale College,Walter traveled to Europe as a Whiffenpoof. Returning to New Haven, he completed his second year at the School of Architecture; at that point, he decided that architecture was not for him. He returned home to Waterbury, Connecticut, where he was active in community theater as both an actor and a singer. He then moved to New York and began a career in advertising.

In 1967, Walter was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma. After several intensive treatments including sessions in chemotherapy, he died at Sloan-Kettering in 1968. Fellow Whiff and classmate Phillip Periman, an oncologist, wrote, “Walt died of malignant lymphoma, a disease we now expect to cure in over half the patients. In 1968 it was still incurable.”

As a student, a singer, an actor, and an art director in advertising, Walter always stood out. I will always remember him as a dear friend.

— by Bob Zimmerman (with William W. B. Veale)