Waller received his B.A. ('62) and M.A. ('64) from University of Northern Iowa (then known as Iowa State Teachers College). He received his Ph.D. in business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington in 1968.
Later that year he returned to UNI and began teaching management and economics, and in 1977 became a full professor. He became dean of the College of Business in 1980 and retired from that position in 1986. He made a "seven figure" donation to Indiana University. Author Waller leaves large estate gift to alma mater
Several of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list including 1992's The Bridges of Madison County which was the top best-seller in 1993. Both that novel and his 1995 novel, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, have been made into motion pictures. Waller currently resides in Texas.