BUTTE – Walter J. Lonner, a 1952 graduate of Butte High School, recently received the “Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Award” from the American Psychological Association. It is the APA’s most prestigious award and was presented to Lonner during a recent conference in Toronto.
Lonner’s contributions include developing various activities that have become mainstays in the field. Founder of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology in 1970, he has spent his entire career studying the influence of culture on thought and behavior and is considered a pioneer in that specialty.
For more than 35 years he was on the faculty of Western Washington University in Bellingham where he co-founded the center for cross-cultural research in 1969. He reached the rank of full professor early and has had sabbatical leaves in Germany (as a Fulbright scholar), Mexico and twice in New Zealand as a distinguished visiting professor. He is currently professor emeritus at WWU.
Still active, he continues to motivate and inspire academic psychologists globally. Lonner received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Montana in 1956 and 1961, respectively, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1967. In part, he attributes his dedication to the psychological study of culture to his growing up in Butte, with its colorful melting pot of cultures and ethnicities.
While in high school and college, Lonner was an outstanding sprinter, lettering four years and serving as captain of the Montana Grizzlies track team. In 1956 he tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in the 200-meter dash and then spent three years as a U.S. Air Force officer before continuing his education. He is the son of the late Joseph G. and Georgia P. Lonner, both Butte natives.