Georgia I. Douglass ’70, M.A. ’94, former editor of Wheaton magazine remembers the work of Wheaton photographer Walter Danylak HON.
When Walter Danylak HON, former designer of Wheaton magazine, walked across campus, his camera was almost always strung around his neck, at-the-ready for the right photo. One spring day in 1991, he was rewarded with an unexpected photo op, as Billy Graham, alone, exited the trustee conference room.
“I was standing in a dark hallway when he passed by,” Walt says. “As he walked toward a window, I was stunned to see his face and profile, and thought: This would be a great photo.”
“Mr. Graham, may I take your picture?” Walt quickly asked. No planning; no set-up; no artificial lighting. He snapped only two shots. Later that day, Walt developed the film in his darkroom at home. Seeing the proof sheets, he was struck by Mr. Graham’s face “totally lit by God’s light” and by “the brightness of his eyes.”
As the magazine’s editor, I was taken aback by the beauty and substance of this portrait, and determined then to save it for the cover of a memorial issue. The photo remained in the editorial files for 27 years, until it was published this year to honor Billy Graham's life and legacy. Was it by chance Walter Danylak en-countered Billy Graham that day, or was it the providence of God? “It was a God thing,” says Walt.
Walter Danylak hon, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, served as designer for Wheaton for ten years. He and his wife Marjorie, who served the College for 15 years, are now retired and living in Alberta, Canada.