William 'Dean' Walker
April 24, 1932 – June 28, 2020
William ‘Dean(e)’ Walker was born on April 24, 1932 just minutes before his twin sister, Eleanor Jeane Walker. The twins were born to Mary Louise Hobbs Walker and Alexander Levette Walker, Jr. in Miami, FL. Shortly after the “1932 Florida-Alabama” hurricane, the Alabama natives moved back to Birmingham. Dean has three sisters: Mary Louise (also born in Miami), Eleanor Jeane (twin sister) and Polly Anne (born after they moved back to Birmingham). While a young man, Dean(e) dropped the (e) from his name because he said it looked too much like a girl name. “Dean” suited him just fine for most of life’s purposes.
Dean spent his childhood and teen years playing sports and fishing in East Lake, a suburb of Birmingham, AL. His adolescents was especially marked when his 36 year old father (of 4 children) was drafted by the Army to defend against the German invasion in France. A. L. “Pop” Walker left for training in early April 1944; was taken as a POW in January 1945; was liberated in April 1945; returned home in September 1945. Dean was forever humbled and grateful by his father’s military service.
According to his sisters, Dean had a full set of chores to help keep up while his dad was gone but he spent all of his spare time playing sports (especially football and baseball) and fishing.
After high school, he served in the Air National Guard from December 1951 to October 1963. He served twice in “active duty” status: - Norton Air Force Base, California (1951-1952) - 27th Air Division - Dreux Air Force Base, France (Berlin Crisis 1961-1962) – 117 Tactical Rec Squad
Dean met the love of his life, Jerry Ruth Johnson, at the church they both attended. They were married November 9, 1951. They were each other’s best friend and preferred companion. They were married for 64 years when Jerry passed away in June 2016. Dean and Jerry had 4 adorable children: Wayne, Dena, Steve and Hollie. Dean and Jerry made a home in Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; and Lebanon, TN. They were the quintessential parenting team. As a family they loved to camp. In the summer of 1970, Dean took 4 weeks vacation so he and Jerry could load up their Volkswagen bus, 4 children (ages 17, 15, 12 and 7) and drive/camp/explore/drive/camp/explore to California and back. It is the land mark experience of their family years. Many stories can be told with much laughter shared when this trip is remembered.
The radio and communication equipment training Dean received in the Air Force opened the door to his lifetime career as a Customer Service Engineer with International Business Machines (IBM). In 1962 Dean was hired and trained to install and service the first extensive ‘data memory and storage processors’ (early computers) in Nashville. The accounts he was assigned to included the State of Tennessee, First American Bank (Regents) and Genesco. During his career he was awarded 8 of IBMs most prestigious ‘IBM Means Service’ awards.
Dean and Jerry and their children were members at Hickory Bend United Methodist Church where he sang in the choir, coached men’s soft ball; taught pre-teen Sunday school; volunteered with the youth ministry. Dean was also a leader in the Boy Scouts of America.
Dean retired to their home in Bellwood, TN in 1993 where he continued to fish, enjoyed researching his and Jerry’s family genealogy and took up bird watching - he and Jerry were active members of the Wilson County Ornithological Society and participated in monthly and annual bird counts for their county and community.
Dean spent the last 3 years as a resident at Pavilion Senior Living and Pavilion Long-term Care in Lebanon, TN. He passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, June 28, 2020 after a long full and productive life. He shared with his family a story of conviction that lead to an eternal joy and trust in God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Dean was characterized by honor, courage, humility, patriotism; decency and doing the right thing even if it were not convenient. If there were a book written about his life it would draw its theme and title from Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”. He walked tall among soldiers, business men, sons, brothers, uncles, husbands and fathers – He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed!
Dean is preceded in death by his mother, Mary Louise Hobbs Walker and his father, Alexander Levette Walker, Jr; his beloved wife, Jerry Ruth Johnson Walker; a grandchild, Elizabeth Noel Walker; brother-in-law and life time friend, Beverly Burroughs Johnson.
He is survived by his 4 children and their spouses, William Wayne Walker (Carolyn), Dena Ruth Walker Curtis (Robert), Steven Alexander Walker (Susan) and Hollie Marie Walker Neil (Rick); 3 sisters, Mary Louise Walker (Johnson), Eleanor Jeane Walker (Nash – Barnes) and Jack Barnes and Polly Anne Walker (Pearson); 9 grandchildren, Lorie Michelle Walker (Owen), Jeremy Walker (Laci), Daniel Walker (Rachel), Jamie Curtis (Heather), Noah Curtis (Ashly), Rachel Watts (Bucky), Amanda Sanders (Brandon), Katie Baldwin (Brandon) and Miriam Neil; 12 great-grandchildren, Johnathan Arnold (Haley), Tiffny Michelle Arnold, Mary-Lynn Walker, Livingstone Walker, Birkleigh-Kate Walker, Jonah Walker, Abram Curtis, Eli Curtis, Eva Watts, Molly Watts, Gabriel Sanders and Dean Sanders.
A Private Celebration of Life will be conducted at Hermitage Funeral Home on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm with Wayne Walker officiating. Friends are encouraged to attend the service on the Hermitage Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens Facebook page right at 2:00 pm. Military Honors and Interment will follow at Hermitage Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.HermitageFH.com for the Walker family.
Private Celebration of Life
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
William 'Dean' Walker
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July 2, 2020
Dean wanted to know when we got home from traveling to Indiana to see our folks, the Coles, and would be back at HBUMC. He was a great choir member and so supportive of his wonderful singing family, even when he retired from the choir. He was so kind and quietly took on church tasks while Jerry sang, and helped hanging Jerry's decorative wreaths. Working with Hollie at TN School for the Blind brought home how humor and the love of the Lord was passed through generations.
July 1, 2020
I have many fond memories of Dean and Jerry Walker through Hickory Bend United Methodist Church. They were such kind, loving people. I feel blessed to have known them.
June 29, 2020
What a great man! The Hilton’s send there condolences!