Walton key figure in  ETSU lore

   When the verdict is read on the life of Judge John W. Walton, he will be found guilty of being a success.
   The former ETSU football standout, and current General Sessions Judge in Carter County will be honored for his achievements this Saturday at 6 p.m. when he joins the ETSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
   The ceremony will take place at the Adelphia Centre in Johnson City.
   The news of the induction was very pleasing to Walton.
   "I am totally honored and humbled by it," Walton said. "When (ETSU athletic director) Todd Stansbury informed me of it I was very surprised."
   On the football field, Walton is remembered mostly for being a standout center on the 1969 Grantland Rice Bowl team.
   The team went 10-0-1 that season, and won the Ohio Valley Conference title.
   "That '69 team is always talked about," Walton said. "It was a good season. We had good athletes, and with the leadership of head coach John Robert Bell we performed beyond expectations."
   The game that most people talk about when you mention the 1969 team is the Grantland Rice Bowl against Louisiana Tech.
   The Bucs were going up against quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who went on to star in the NFL. The odds were definitely against the Bucs, but ETSU pulled out a 34-14 win in that contest.
   Walton was playing offense that game, and didn't go up against Bradshaw. However, he thought the Grantland Rice Bowl was a great experience.
   "We all knew he was an explosive quarterback," Walton said. "Our defense did an excellent job sacking him. Our offense scored some points, and we were able to take him down."
   Walton was rewarded in 1969 for his outstanding play by being named an All-American.
   "The teams were smaller back then," Walton said. "I only weighed 210 pounds, which is small by today's standard. I was an All-Ohio Valley Conference selection for two years, then I was selected as an All-American. I felt truly honored."
   The Walton tradition at ETSU didn't die after the Grantland Rice Bowl. Judge Walton's son, Adam Walton, came to ETSU in 1996 after being a standout football player at Elizabethton High School.
   Walton didn't force his son to pick ETSU, but he was glad Adam decided to come to Johnson City.
   "I left Adam's choice up to him," Walton said. "I was totally elated that he picked ETSU. He started all four years, and that's another point of my life that was very exciting.
   Adam Walton played on probably the second-most talked about team in school history. In 1996, his freshman season, the starting free-safety and the rest of Buccaneers had a year to remember.
   The Bucs went 10-3 that season, and made the second round of the NCAA 1-AA playoffs.
   "Back when I played they didn't have the playoff system," Walton said. "There are two football banners in the dome, one from '69 and one from '96. There was a Walton on both of those teams."
   Judge Walton has remained active at ETSU since his graduation. He serves on the Pirate Club Board of Directors, and has served on the founding committee of the ETSU Letterwinners Club.
   Walton's accomplishments aren't just limited to ETSU. Walton went to law school at Memphis State, and graduated eighth in his class in 1975.
   Walton was an attorney until 1998, when he was elected General Sessions Judge in Carter County.
   "I'm totally grateful to the people of Carter County," Walton said. "I had overwhelming support, and I'm grateful for that. I'm a fair and impartial judge, and I promised to be that in the campaign. I'm a man that will listen."
   Walton has definitely applied some of the same knowledge he acquired from being on the football field, and put it to use in the courtroom.
   "You have to prepare for a trial like you do for a football game," Walton said. "You have two sides battling it out, just like you do in the courtroom. I attained a lot of attributes from football, and carried them over into the courtroom."
   Overall, Walton thinks he has had a lot of good things happen to him.
   "I feel like I've been fortunate," Walton said. "I've had good faith shine on me. Maybe it's just being in the right place at the right time."