Hermiston Realty to stay open after death of Donn Walls

Donn Walls

Hermiston Realty staff are in mourning after principal broker Donn Walls died Friday.

Walls, 79, was a staple of Hermiston’s real estate community. He was born in La Grande, graduated from Umatilla High School and got a degree in animal science from Oregon State University before eventually returning to the Hermiston area in 1988. He worked for Universal Realty and bought Century 21, which eventually became Hermiston Realty in 2001.

Patty Looman, office manager for Hermiston Realty, and Travis Rock, who handles the Hermiston Property Management side of the business, said Walls was active in the community. He was president-elect of the Kiwanis Club and heavily involved in Umatilla High School’s alumni association.

His first love, they said, was real estate. But he also loved Arabian horses, orchids, going to Tri-Cities Americans hockey games and playing his lucky wild cherry machine at the casino.

“He was a very social person,” Rock said. “Everyone was his friend.”

Looman knew Walls for 28 years, and Rock worked with him for more than 30. While Walls never married or had children of his own, Looman said he was like family to her and to other co-workers. His clients were very important to him too.

“He was a very charismatic person and worked hard for his clients,” she said.

Walls received many awards over his career, including Columbia Basin Realtors’ Realtor of the Year in 2008. Looman said not only did Walls work tirelessly for his clients, but it helped that he was so connected to everyone in the community and knew the history of so many properties.

Hermiston Realty agent Sandy Allen said she got her real estate license the same year Walls did.

“He lived and breathed real estate,” she said.

Allen will be stepping up into the role of principal broker for the business. It has been a rough time for staff — they were still having to inform people calling the office on Tuesday that Walls had passed away — but they said Hermiston Realty will continue to operate with “business as usual.”

“He would have wanted us to continue on,” Rock said.

A celebration of life service for Walls will be held Monday at 10 a.m. in the Burns Mortuary chapel in Hermiston.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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