Dustin Walker had an irrepressible love of the outdoors, but he especially loved it if that outdoor location was a soccer field.
“He was a great athlete, almost a freak athlete,” said Penn State Behrend soccer coach Dan Perritano, who met Mr. Walker while the latter was a student at Kiski Area High School during the recruiting process. “He could do things in goal that were astonishing.”
Off the field, Mr. Walker loved fishing, hunting, biking and camping.
“He lived life to the fullest,” said his mother, Linda Walker of Washington Township.
Dustin Walker of North Carolina died unexpectedly Nov. 11, 2018, of natural causes. He was 30.
Walker began playing soccer at age 5, going on to play for Kiski Area as well as the Pittsburgh Strikers, Penns Forest Football Club and Penn State Behrend. He also spent a summer playing semi-pro soccer with the National Premier Soccer League’s Erie Admirals.
“He was also involved with the TOPS Soccer Program at PSU Behrend,” Linda Walker said. “They worked with kids and adults with disabilities and autism.”
Current Kiski Area soccer coach Sean Arnold was not with the district when Mr. Walker was a student, but the two met when Mr. Walker returned for Kiski’s alumni games.
“He was a good kid and a good soccer player,” Arnold said.
Chad Benzenhoefer of Washington County grew up with Mr. Walker.
“His aunt babysat me and my sister,” Benzenhoefer said. “We did a lot of camping together. Our families were extremely close, and during the summer pretty much every weekend we’d go camping.”
Cook’s Forest was a regular camping destination. But when it came to fishing, Mr. Walker’s favorite place was the Efesee Lodge near State College.
“He really enjoyed fishing in the Kettle Creek area, as well as Trout Run in Lycoming County,” Linda Walker said.
Each year, Mr. Walker — who began working and living in North Carolina after graduating college — would make the trip back to Efesee Lodge for the group’s annual reunion.
Keith Hodges of Washington Township was also a lodge member and knew Mr. Walker for more than two decades.
“He and his dad were members, and they got me involved,” Hodges said. “(Dustin) was an ambitious guy, and he always would help people out.”
Benzenhoefer is also a member of the Efesee Lodge.
“The reunion was a big part of our lives over the past 10 years,” he said. “I didn’t get to see Dustin too much when he was living in North Carolina, but I knew I’d see him at the reunion every year.”
Linda Walker said her son’s large group of friends were the most important thing in his life.
“No matter where he was, he stayed in touch with them,” she said.
Funeral services for Mr. Walker were held Friday.
Memorial donations can be made to Penn State Behrend TOPS Soccer ATTN: Dan Perritano, 5103 Station Road, Erie, PA 16563. Please write “Dustin Walker” in the check’s memo line.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.