Herbert Walker, Jr., a champion of the underserved and a bellwether in the struggle for racial and gender equality, died August 23, 2017, in his native Cincinnati. He was 75 years old. He had a rich and illustrious life whose primary calling was to serve as an advocate for the disadvantaged.
Mr. Walker was born in Cincinnati’s historic West End. The son of Herbert Walker, Sr., and Laura Walker, he was the second of their five children. As a young child, his mother impressed upon him the importance of taking care of his brothers. She nicknamed him “Brother Boy,” a name reflective of the love and support he imbued to his siblings. When fate took the life of his mother at an early age, Herbert selflessly took on the responsibility of caring for the family.
Mr. Walker graduated from Hughes High School in 1960. After graduating from high school, he embarked on a career of service for his fellows. His first job was at Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital. During this time, he met Vellier Rembert. They married and reared five children. Herbert also had two children later in life.
Mr. Walker eventually followed in his father’s vocational footsteps, and he took a position at the United States Post Office. He distinguished himself with his diligence, working as a mail handler at the U.S. Postal Service’s Downtown and Sharonville locations. He came to the realization that a strong union was essential for improving the lives of those who worked at the post office, especially minorities, and he became a representative for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.
His mission to improve the lives of his co-workers and his innate leadership skills translated into him becoming the union’s regional president of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. He was ultimately elected president of the union, and his advocacy for union members is legendary. He represented scores of union members on the job and in court. He poured countless hours into researching their cases, and he triumphed time and again.
As a union officer, Mr. Walker also championed the plight of women. A strong proponent of family and equality, he recognized that the U.S. Postal Service didn’t afford women the same opportunities as it afforded men. He became an indefatigable advocate to ensure women received the same opportunities as men.
After he retired from the U.S. Postal Service, he brought his work ethic and advocacy abilities to the Hamilton County Community Action Agency, where he managed the Home Energy Assistance Program, a federally funded program that helps low-income and senior Ohio citizens pay their home energy bill. Once again, service to his fellows became a driving motivator for him. People had needs, and he was there to help.
In addition to working at the Community Action Agency, Mr. Walker had an entrepreneurial spirit. He was the co-founder, with his cousin James Thomas, of Freedom Cosmetics, a line of skincare products. He and his brother Fred also bought and rehabbed properties, renting the newly renovated apartments to lower socioeconomic families.
As the patriarch of the Walker family, he encouraged his children to commit themselves to a life of service. He buttressed his son’s dream of starting the Walker Funeral Home to help families through the difficult time of losing a loved one. He also enjoyed working alongside his son at the funeral home, serving bereaved families.
Will Rogers once remarked that he never met a man he didn’t like, and the same could be said of Mr. Walker. He was a gifted public speaker and motivator, and his passion for people, equality, and justice thrust him into community affairs. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP, and he served as the vice president of its Cincinnati branch. He served as a chairperson for the NAACP’s Labor and Industry Committee, too.
His egalitarianism was also exemplified by his selfless service to other organizations, including the Progressive Senior Citizens Club whose mission is to improve the health, physical environment, and economic status of seniors. He was an avid supporter of the Progressive Senior Citizens Club, particularly its sponsorship of the Lucille Chenault Ball, an annual fundraiser.
In addition to his family, professional career, and community activism, Mr. Walker was active at the Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where he started attending services as a teenager. In his youth, he played on the church’s basketball team, the Shiloh Hornets. He also sang bass in the Choraliers, the church’s choir. Throughout the years, he supported the church’s programs of social uplift, especially the Shiloh Daycare and Preschool programs.
He was proud of all his children and their accomplishments. He leaves a family legacy of seven children, fifteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, with two coming later this year.
Mr. Walker is survived by his children, Valerie Walker, Herbert T. Walker III, LFD, Camela Walker, Christophas H. (Melissa) Walker, Ph.D., Laura (Tangela) Walker, Antonio “AJ” Hughes, and Heather L. Peters.
His grandchildren are Keiva Jason, Kelvin Jason, CaDawn Powell, CaTia (Brandon) Daniels, Zuri Walker, Kaleah Walker, Christian Walker, Arianna Hughes, Antonio J. Hughes, Jr., Marcus Miles, Kedric Davis, Jasmine Davis, MaKayla Davis, Christopher Peters, Jr., and Case Tinsley
His great-grandchildren are CaMyla Powell, CaMar Powell, Cameron Powell, and Solomon Daniels.
Mr. Walker was preceded in death by his youngest brother, Clifford Homer (Bernice) Walker. He leaves two brothers to cherish his memory: Garvin Walker and Fred (Carolyn) Walker; his former wife Vellier (Colin) Parkinson; a brother-in-law, George Bennie Rembert; sister-in-law, Nancy Rembert; and other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be conducted at 5:00 p.m., on Sunday, September 3,2017, from the Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church, 3660 Washington Avenue, Cincinnati (45229). The body will lie in state two hours prior to the service.
The family will receive friends from 12 noon until 6:00 p.m., on Saturday, September 2, 2017, at Walker Event Center, 3939 Reading Road (corner of Reading and Paddock) in North Avondale (45229),