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Walter A. Ralls

Professor of History
1961-1993

During his 32 years of teaching history at the Colleges, Professor Emeritus Ralls inspired countless students. One alumnus fondly recalls, "Dr. Ralls was my model adviser, teacher and mentor. He drew the map that guided my intellectual journey both during college and after." In the classroom, Ralls was described as "informative and enlightening," "a wonderful teacher who inspired a love of history," and "a terrific storyteller with a great sense of humor." He had an uncanny ability to begin class with the seed of an idea, germinate it with seemingly unrelated circumstances, and grow it into a complete picture of a given period of history. As Charles Updegraph III '90 describes, Ralls' courses "were wondrous journeys through not just history, but also culture, music, politics." Many of his former students still recall their experiences in his class and how they continue to enrich their lives today. Given his love of bringing history to life, it is not surprising that upon his retirement in 1993, Dr. Ralls moved to Virginia to work on a slightly longer story—a book on the British in India.