Entrepreneur Walter Theodore Hayden was born June 24, 1926, in Tuskegee, Alabama, where his father, Rev. Charles Hayden of Greenwood, Mississippi, was chaplain of Tuskegee University. Hayden attended Hudson Elementary School in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from Birmingham’s Parker High School in 1944; he was a pre-med student at Indiana University from 1944 to 1947.
In the mid-1950s, Hayden was a driver and broker for PR & R Trucking Company in Birmingham. From 1961 to 1964, Hayden was the owner and operator of Birmingham’s Star Bowl bowling lanes. Star Bowl became a meeting place and a secret sheltering place for civil rights workers during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. In 1964, Hayden moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he started Diamond Printing; soon thereafter, he began printing and distributing his own line of African American oriented greeting cards. In 1995, Hayden founded Fort Wayne Black Pages Business Directory.
A lifetime member of the NAACP, Hayden was also a member of the Urban League for twenty years, and for over sixty years was a member of the A.M.E. church. Hayden and his wife, Ernestine, remained in Fort Wayne where they raised nine children.
Hayden passed away on January 8, 2020.
Walter Theodore Hayden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 23, 2005.