Walter Nathaniel Fanning

born Dade County, Missouri 1862
Warrant Gunner Walter Nathaniel Fanning 1914
Walter Nathaniel Fanning, son of Richard Harrison Fanning and Malissa Jane Spence Fanning was born August 31, 1885 in Arcola, Missouri.
At age 16 he ran away from home and lived with his Aunt Louisa Amick in the Indian Territory.
Walter joined the Navy, becoming a radioman at the Naval Radio Station on Yerba Buena Island where he met the lighthouse keeper's daughter, Anna Dagmar Kofod. They were married in 1908.
Walter served in the Navy for many years, moving his family to Cordova, Alaska, Norfolk, VA; San Pedro, CA; Mare Island, Vallejo, CA and Honolulu, HI. His specialty was building radio stations. He knew morse code and invented the first naval radio relay system. The Navy bought the patent from him which enabled him to buy a home in Alameda, CA when he retired.
Walter and Anna had three chilren, Walter Norman, born 1909, Irma Mildred, born 1911 (both in the keeper's quarters on Yerba Buena Island) and Velma Marciel, born 1920 in Vallejo. The family moved every two years when Walter changed assignments either in the Navy or with the Coast Guard where he transferred.


Bordeaux, France 1917

Walter described the photo above as the "City Water Works,
Analga, Alaska" which he and his crew had built.

He told us he started the World's Fair on Treasure Island. He was stationed at the radio station. The President was supposed to signal the fair to begin officially, but there was a backup plan in case the President's transmission didn't arrive. Grandpa was supposed to type it out on his radio. When the President's message failed to arrive, Grandpa started the fair.

In his garage he had the cockpit of an aircraft standing on end. We children could climb into it and squeeze the trigger and make the turret turn.

He was "Paw" to his daughters and "Grandpa" to we grandchildren. Grandma and Grandpa had the first television in the family. Every Sunday Grandma would cook dinner and we all would enjoy her wonderful cooking and then we would sit in front of the television (tiny screened) and watch Red Skelton and Ed Sullivan. A special treat was either Pepsicola or Old Fashioned Mug Root Beer in glasses with ice.

Those of us who remember Walter Nathaniel Fanning, remember him at home in Alameda, CA after his retirement. He always had a cigar, and he enjoyed working with his radios and radio parts. His basement and an upstairs room were filled with radios and wires. He had a shortwave radio on which he could hear Russia. This was unusual in the 1940's. He remembered the last transmission of Amelia Earhart before she disappeared.

Aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Haida, 1929


About 1950