There were tears and laughter as family, friends and dignitaries today remembered Theresa Walker, wife of the late DeKalb County Commissioner Lou Walker, as a precious pearl who cared deeply about people.
The memorial service for Mrs. Walker was held at 2 p.m. at St. Philip AME Church at 240 Candler Road, S.E., in Decatur.
A crowd that included DeKalb's highest-elected officials came to bid her farewell including Congressman Hank Johnson and his wife, Mereda, State Representatives Howard Mosby and Billy Mitchell, former CEO Burrell Ellis, DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown; DeKalb Clerk of Court Debra DeBerry; DeKalb Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton, Larry Johnson, Stan Watson and Kathie Gannon; and Edmond Richardson, representing Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.
Several from the business community, including Greater Lithonia Chamber President Doreen Carter, Nevell Anderson, CEO of Green Energy Partners, also came to pay their respects. The Walkers were well known in the business community: They founded the Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce, which annually holds a prayer breakfast for state lawmakers before the start of the State Legislature.
A public servant in her own right, Mrs. Walker was lauded as a valuable asset, a meticulous organizer and a pearl that stood out. She championed for people until the very end of her battle with cancer. She died on Oct. 18 at age 68. Mrs. Walker was in the process of planning a black tie event for the Antioch Manor Estates' tenants association, where she lived in Decatur with other active senior citizens, the Rev. Bernice Madden said during her eulogy.
"She had a servant's heart. She invested her time, talents and efforts into the things that concerned her Lord," Rev. Madden said.
Joscelyn O'Neil, who befriended Mrs. Walker through the Greater Towers Community Association, where Mrs. Walker and her husband had once lived, called her a "pearl."
"She was a beautiful, soft-spoken pearl. I enjoyed the knowledge she shared. She took up where her husband left off in striving to improve the Greater Towers community," O'Neil said.
Tarvis Thompson-Pace, who worked for Paragon Productions, a public relations firm owned by the Walkers, described Mrs. Walker as a good teacher who always pushed for excellence.
"She rewarded us for our hard work with concert tickets and parties and other things," Thompson-Pace said.
Thompson-Pace said Mrs. Walker also stressed the importance of putting their clients out front. However, even though Mrs. Walker chose to remain in the background in her work, she was hurt once when Paragon was overlooked as one of several entities involved with helping DeKalb Medical Center at Hillandale get its certificate of need to open in the community. Hospital officials apologized for the mistake.
"There was a program and everyone who worked on the project, except Paragon Productions, was recognized. It was truly an oversight but that hurt her feelings. She cried about it," Thompson-pace said.
In addition to the hard work she put forth at Paragon, Mrs. Walker strongly supported her husband in his work as a DeKalb County Commissioner.
"She was the engine behind the Lou Walker machine," said Thompson-Pace, who also added that engine was one that did not readily accept 21st century technology.
"She typed all of our checks out on a typewriter and she still carried a cell phone that had a big antenna," Thompson-Pace said.
Mrs. Walker also worked tirelessly for her church, St. Philip AME, and the many organizations she supported including The Red Hat Society and the Lou Walker Senior Center, which was named for her late husband.
"She was a valuable asset to the entire DeKalb family," said DeKalb's Deputy Chief Operating Officer Morris Williams, who presented a proclamation to Mrs. Walker's family. In honor of Lou Walker and Mrs. Walker, Williams wore a hat that Lou Walker had given him.
Mrs. Walker is survived by her sister, Doris Aniece Whorton (Patrick) of Idlewild, MI; sons, Reginald Tucker (Brigette), Oranz Walker, and Louis Walker, Jr. (Cynthia); daughter, Angelique Wood; and grandchildren, Kristopher Tucker, Angela and Shaundra Wood, LaShon Walker, Oranz Wallker Jr., Oshai Walker; and a host of other relatives.