Born in Mayville, North Dakota, in 1899. Walter Bakke left North Dakota to attend and later graduate from the University of Illinois. He started his professional career as a high school teacher and coach in Denver, Colorado. In 1928, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant athletic trainer. Two years later he became the Head Athletic Trainer for Ohio State University. In the summer months during his tenure at O.S.U., Walter also worked as the athletic trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1936 Walter became the Head Athletic Trainer for the University of Wisconsin – Madison, a position he held until his retirement in 1966.
Walter had many other great accomplishments throughout his professional career. Some of the more notable ones include: a Charter Member of the NATA in 1950, a United State Olympic Athletic Trainer at the Rome Games in 1960, and induction into the NATA Helms Foundation Hall of Fame in 1965.