January 16, 2020
James Richard Walker, Jr. was born in Memphis TN and died there at the age of 79, after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife of 55 years, Carol P. Walker, their son, Dr. J. Richard Walker, III of Memphis, grandsons Ethan Walker Cline and Preston Wallace Cline, son-in-law, Dr. Adam C. Cline of Cleveland, TN. He also leaves his sister, Peggy Walker Huffman of Germantown and a much- loved multitude of cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, as well as great- great nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter, Carol Walker Cline, his brother, J.M. Walker and his parents, James Richard Walker (Dick) and Margaret Bullington Walker. A high school graduate of Rock Hill Academy in Charlottesville VA, he majored in animal husbandry at the University of Arizona and Mississippi State. He would later achieve the rating of Captain, 100-ton Master, Oceans, licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was a lifelong member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, where his claim to fame as acolyte master was opening up being an acolyte to girls as well as boys. His second church home in winter and spring was St. Columba in Marathon (the Keys), where he was an active participant and did volunteer work, especially after Hurricane Irma did extensive damage to the area. Richard was a businessman, traveler, explorer, philanthropist, and serious yachtsman. He was a member of the Memphis Country Club for 54 years. In Memphis he served on several boards, such as Youth Service (now Bridges), Volunteer Service Bureau, and United Way in charge of major gifts. He founded Walker Holidays, Ltd. with his wife in 1967 and they continued to work in the travel business for more than fifty years, visiting and working in approximately 100 countries on 6 continents. He was one of the first in the business to write proprietary software integrating agents’ computer systems with those of the airlines and to facilitate global communications for travel. He was a founder of Travel Trust International (TTI), a national consortium of high-volume travel companies and a business think tank. As a leader with TTI he represented agencies across the United States in Washington DC and rewrote the existing agreements between the agencies and the airlines that governed all air travel. He invented the GRIPS system used by agents across the country to facilitate handling of group travel both domestically and internationally. His was one of two agencies whose backoffice systems were the first to be interfaced with the American Airlines reservation system. He was believed to be one of the first agents to take American tourists behind the iron curtain to both China and the Soviet Union in the 70s and 80s. While he had been a lifelong boater, Captain Walker worked his way up to Master Captain logging countless years on various lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. His love of the sea was inspired as a boy by his reading of Richard Halliburton’s books about his worldwide adventures. At 15, he took his first boat single-handedly down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. From then on, he was hooked. He served as a member of the Memphis Marine Rescue Squadron for many years before the Coast Guard had a station manned to assume that mission. He took many Memphis underprivileged youth out for lessons on boating life and safety and was the Commodore of the Memphis Yacht Club. He often moved boats for friends and lived mostly on his boat with his wife for the last 10 years of his life. He was known for helping fellow boaters, offering lessons and guiding others on his bi-annual trip down the Tennessee River and Tombigbee Waterway, across the Gulf of Mexico and to various islands in Florida and the Bahamas. His expertise was often sought, as he had logged many memorable trips, such as successfully crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in the winter in a 93-ft. schooner, sailing through hurricanes, or a leisurely sail from St. Thomas to Bermuda. He was featured in boating books detailing the Great Loop as a local captain, knowledgeable about the journey on the southern portion of the Great Loop. He was an honorary “Looper”. He will be missed by many mariners from the Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast, the Keys and the Bahamas. A lifetime of knowledge, skills and experience was always made available to anyone around him just for the asking. Ultimately, Captain Walker will be known by all who remember him as something of a Renaissance Man, being equally at home at an Italian Opera performed while having dinner with European royalty or repairing the engines on a boat at sea with a makeshift set of parts. He was always there for anyone who asked for assistance and was known for an unflappable sense of fairness and duty. He was a larger-than-life figure with many interests and friends worldwide. He will be sorely missed by family and friends alike. Funeral service will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 25th at St. John’s Episcopal Church, with a reception to follow in the parish hall. The family asks that any memorials be sent to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3245 Central Ave., Memphis TN 38111.
James Richard Walker, Jr. was born in Memphis TN and died there at the age of 79, after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind his wife of 55 years, Carol P. Walker, their son, Dr. J. Richard Walker, III of Memphis, grandsons Ethan Walker... View Obituary & Service Information
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