John Walker III, the patrician art connoisseur who, as chief curator and then director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, almost single-handedly shaped the museum into a world-class institution, died Sunday at his home in Sussex, England. He was 88 and had lived in England since he retired from the gallery in 1969.
Mr. Walker was a member of a groundbreaking generation of museum professionals, spurred by an interest in art both old and new.
Like many of his peers, he attended Harvard University, studying art history and museum practices under Professor Paul J. Sachs. While there, he formed with others the Society for Contemporary Art, whose exhibitions paved the way for museums of modern art for decades.
Arriving in Washington in 1939, Mr. Walker was more or less present at the founding of the National Gallery. Working with the gallery's first director, David E. Finley, he had a hand in the museum's layout and helped oversee the construction of its Romanizing building.
He also oversaw the installation of the gallery's original collection, a group of 38 paintings from the collections of Samuel H. Kress and Andrew Mellon, which included works by Raphael, Rembrandt and Titian.
Walter C. Williams, 76, a pioneering aerospace engineer whose 50-year career helped propel the country into the jet age and the era of manned space exploration, died Oct. 7 at his home in Tarzana, Calif. He suffered a brief illness, according to the Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., in which he served as founding director.
Salvatore Aiello, 51, artistic director for the North Carolina Dance Theatre, died of pneumonia Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.