11/2/12

A Family Patriarch


Dillan and Pepapa

I wrote this article for the "Friends & Neighbors" section of our local paper.
Many of you know my family, so I thought I'd share it with you in case you missed it.
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Faith Impacts Life
(published in Cordele Dispatch 11/25/12)


Known affectionately by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as “Pepapa”, Harry Walker recently celebrated his 88th birthday with his family at the original family homestead in Abbeville, Georgia. 
The youngest of 8 living children, Harry Walker was born on October 21, 1924 to Virginia McAnnaly and Jacob Walker.  Sadly, he never got to meet his father because Jacob Walker died the day he was born.  Like most children during this time, Harry grew up learning the “farming way of life” from his older siblings and helped to provide and care for his widowed mother. 
After completing high school, he married and continued to work on the family farm until enlisting in the United States Army in February, 1945.   He served in the army until he was discharged in October, 1946.  Most of Mr. Walker’s military service was spent in Japan, where he also played on the Army baseball team.  An avid lover of the sport, Walker has many times shared fond memories with his family of playing baseball at a stadium in Hiroshima, Japan.
Although he was asked to serve another term, Walker was anxious to return to Wilcox County to care for his mother, his new wife, and their first born child that he had yet to meet.
Walker returned home where he started farming once again.  He and his wife had five children who also grew up on the family farm.  Their farming consisted of growing peanuts, cotton, corn, tobacco, and also raising Polled Hereford cattle.  The Walkers also owned their own horses and enjoyed horseback riding.  They loved to entertain their grandchildren with long rides through the countryside.  He and his wife, Ida Pearl Ledford, were married for 41 years before her death in 1985.
In addition to being a “family man”, Mr. Walker is a very Patriotic individual and feels that citizens should take their civic duties seriously and always exercise their right to vote.  He also feels that service to one’s community is important.  Walker, himself, once served as a County Commissioner in Wilcox County and was also a tax assessor.
If you talk with Walker’s children or grandchildren, they each will share their love of this man who they see as the “cornerstone” of their family’s faith in God.  They all have many special memories of times spent on the farm with this family patriarch.  The entire family used to gather every weekend for a meal and it was not unusual at these gatherings to hear guitars playing or to hear the sound of family harmony singing old favorite gospel hymns.  An unspoken, but understood commonality among Mr. Walker’s family seems to be the importance of putting God first, family, and then friends. 
One of Mr. Walker’s favorite places to visit is the North Georgia Mountains, especially in the fall.  Due to health reasons, he has not been able to make this trip in several years, but for many years, Mr. Walker enjoyed camping trips to Nottley River Campground with his entire family.  The Georgia Mountain Fair was always a favorite stop on many of these visits.  The grandchildren always enjoyed tubing down the mountain river and were always amazed that their “Pepapa” always knew where to pick them up down river.  They never had to worry about getting lost or him not knowing where to find them since the area was very familiar to him from numerous visits.  He would always be waiting to pick them up and timed their arrival perfectly. 
The family also holds many special memories of Christmases spent on the farm.  Each year, Mr. Walker would make the trip across the woods to cut down the special Christmas tree that had been marked just for that special day.  With the help of all the grandchildren, the tree would be decorated and ready to celebrate the Christmas holidays. 
As a follower of Christ, Mr. Walker’s faith has always been of utmost importance to him.  He has been a lay speaker, filling the pulpits for various churches through the years.  He has also taught many Bible studies, including  teachings on the book of Revelation.  He is a member of First Baptist Church of Abbeville where he served numerous years as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. 
Mr. Walker’s faith in God has been deeply imprinted in the lives of his children and grandchildren.  His deep love of the Bible is obvious as he still enjoys reading and studying scripture in his retirement years.
He is married to Mary Daniels from Abbeville, Georgia.  

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