Advantage RAC Founder Kenneth Walker Dies at 81

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Kenneth J. Walker, founder of Advantage Rent-A-Car, died Jan. 16. He was 81.

Walker's career in car rental began in 1963, when he moved his wife and family to San Antonio and launched $3.99 Car Rentals.

During the 1960s and 70s, the company grew largely through the acquisition of several different franchises. In 1984, Walker consolidated all operations under the name of Advantage Rent-A-Car.

The company, headquartered in San Antonio, is still family-owned. Advantage also owns and operates Star Shuttle & Charter and Abbey Walker Executive Cars & Limousines in Central and South Texas.

Walker is survived by his wife, Helen Lee; daughter Lee and her husband, Warren Cowley, of Austin; son Jimmy and his wife, Kay, of Lake McQueeney; son Bob and his wife, Pattie, of San Antonio; son John and his wife, Suzie, of San Antonio; and son Mark of San Antonio.

Additionally, Walker is survived by 17 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by all four of his siblings: Helen, Shirley, Earl and Beverly.

Walker was born to Joel Walker and Edith Rasmussen Walker in Sparta, Wis., on July 29, 1923. He grew up in Waukegan, Ill. He started his first career at age seven as a newspaper boy. After graduating from Waukegan Township High School, he joined the Army in 1942 to serve during World War II.

After the war, Walker returned to Ft. Sam Houston and San Antonio and eventually resumed his newspaper career in San Antonio, attended college and married Helen Lee Pike from San Antonio. He graduated from Trinity University in 1949 with a degree in accounting.

Before joining the car rental industry, Walker's entrepreneurial endeavors included a successful stint in the greeting card business. He founded Pleasant Thoughts Greeting Card Co., which was eventually sold to Gibson Greetings in 1962.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

Why Do We Visit Capitol Hill?

Members of the American Car Rental Association met with U.S. senators, representatives, and their aides last week. Here’s why bringing the message to this forum matters.

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Not caving to a customer with a blatant agenda may have consequences, especially for a small rental company that relies on stellar Yelp ratings to advertise. But business integrity must prevail.

The Truth Behind Compact Van Depreciation

Why are large van values holding up better than their compact counterparts, and will it last?

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.