Born in 1949, Walter Dalton grew up in Rutherford County where his father practiced law, operated a small business, and served the area in the North Carolina senate and where his mother taught school. His father died unexpectedly when Walter was eight and his mother, sister, and a caring community helped to steer him in the right direction.
He attended the public schools, participating in athletics in three sports at R S Central High School. He then entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in business administration. After working for a year in banking, he returned to Chapel Hill to get his law degree with his bride, Lucille, also a school teacher, by his side.
Upon graduating law school, he worked as a law clerk in the federal court system for two years before entering the private practice of law in Rutherfordton where he practiced for over 33 years. In 1996 he ran for the North Carolina Senate and won a seat he held for six terms before being elected North Carolina’s 33rd Lieutenant Governor. In the Senate, he chaired the education committee and later the appropriations committee. He was the author of the Innovative Education Act and played an instrumental role in the creation of North Carolina’s early college model which has been heralded as a national model. He also led the effort in the General Assembly to acquire Chimney Rock from private interests and preserve it as a state park.
As Lieutenant Governor, Dalton created and chaired the JOBS Commission (Joining Our Businesses and Schools) which sought to link early college initiatives to the demands of the regional workforce. He has served on North Carolina’s Economic Development Board, Community College Board, and state Board of Education.
Currently, Dalton serves as the Fifth president of Isothermal Community College. He lives in Rutherfordton with his wife of 42 years, Lucille. They have two grown children and one grandchild.