Papers of 1926 alum and football player Walter J. Lumley; contains information about his installation of the Block P on Bishop
Walter J. Lumley was born 26 September 1905 in King City, California to Walter Johnston Lumley and Mary Ellen Clique Lumley.
He attended King City Elementary until the age of 14, then moved to San Luis Obispo to enroll at Cal Poly which was, at the
time, California Polytechnical School, a four-year secondary vocational program. His younger brother Phillip Lumley also attended
Lumley enrolled at Cal Poly in 1920 at attended on and off until his graduation in 1926. He was listed on the Honor Roll in
1924 and a 1925 campus newsletter article mentions that he returned to campus after a long illness, which may have contributed
to his extended enrollment at the school. Lumley was a member of the basketball team, quarterback of the football team, and
on the track team during his time as a student at Cal Poly. He was also involved in multiple student activities including
the Polytechnic Journal student-staff as a photographer, the Dormitory Club, and the Block P club which was responsible for
maintaining the “P” located on northwestern campus hillside.
Lumley is perhaps best known for installing the Block P on Bishop Peak. In 1925 he enlisted the help of fellow classmen and
borrowed supplies from the Ag Department to install the painted “P”. The installation required repelling down the rock by
rope to paint the “P” and took several days. The letter is reported to be 40 feet tall by 24 feet wide. After the project
was completed, he was invited to dinner at the home of Cal Poly President Dr. Crandall who complimented him on the project.
It was 28 years before a second coat of paint was applied.
The 1940 census lists his status as employed as a truck salesman for an oil company (possibly wholesale fuel), living with
his wife and daughter in King City. Walter J. Lumley died 9 November 1983 and is buried in King City, California. The year
of his death he wrote a brief essay regarding his Block P project which is included in his papers.
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