Robert J Walker (Bob),88, of Lynchburg, VA, gained his permanent wings on Thursday, April 20th, at 2:25pm, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Bob was born on July 26th, 1934, in Beckley, WV, the son of the late Alfreda Phipps Walker and Robert Jackson Walker Sr both of Beckley. Bob graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley in 1952. He served in the Air Force at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL from 1953 to 1957. He then attended college on the GI Bill at WV Tech, graduating in 1961 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Bob met his wife Shirley Jean Ward Walker, of Rockford, AL, on a blind date in Montgomery, AL, in 1955 and they married the following year. After living in WV through his college years and a brief residency in Ohio, the two made Lynchburg their permanent home in 1961 after Bob was hired by Babcock and Wilcox. Bob and Shirley were married for 66+ years.
Bob’s career at B & W spanned 34 years and afforded him the opportunity to travel the world as well as make many lifelong friends. While he loved the business of nuclear engineering, Bob also became an accomplished woodworker and furniture maker. He made many of the pieces that resided in their home on Locksview Rd. Though encouraged by many to do so, he never wanted to make money from this hobby. However, he graciously and with great talent made many beautiful pieces for his children and grandchildren and was always up for helping a friend with a broken or damaged piece of furniture.
Anyone who knew Bob though knew his one true passion and love, aside from his family, was his flying career. There was no place he would rather be in this world than in the sky. A lover of planes since he was a child, Bob joined a flying club while in the Air Force and never looked back. He earned his private pilot’s license in 1956, just before attending college. With over 11,000 hours of flying to his credit (at age 86), he instructed over 400 students in the Lynchburg area to become pilots or obtain additional ratings and certifications. Bob was awarded the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2016, which requires 50 or more years of experience and an accident-free record. The aviation community was an integral part of Bob’s happiness. Many of his most cherished relationships were from his vast group of flying friends.
Bob is survived by his wife; Shirley, daughter; Deborah Ann Walker Helak (Matt) of Downingtown, PA, son; Robert Kevin Walker (Beverly) of Greenville, NC, four grandchildren; Annparke Sullivan Hill (Eric), Walker Pearce Sullivan, Austin Jackson Walker and Carson Walker Yates (Cole). Also surviving him are his beloved brother and sister-in-law Gary and Doris Walker of Martinsville, VA (who loved him fiercely and never gave up hope) and his sister Betty Lilly of Beckley, WV.
A memorial service will take place at 2pm on Thursday, May 18th, 2023 at The Commons in Westminster Canterbury, 501 VES Rd Lynchburg, VA 24503. A reception will follow on The Bridge. Time will be set aside during the service and the reception for anyone wishing to share a remembrance of Bob. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in his name to one of the many causes Bob was passionate about. Tunnel to Towers (T2T.org), Wounded Warriors Project (woundedwarriorproject.org) which supports veterans and first responders, the ASPCA (www.aspca.org), or the Lynchburg Humane Society (lynchburghumane.org) which supports homeless, abused, and neglected animals. He would also welcome a contribution to the cancer charity of your choice.
The Walker family would like to acknowledge and thank the caregivers that were with Bob during his last year. While there were many, a few were extra special to him. They brightened his darkest days and made him feel seen and heard. They advocated for his care every day and their kindness cannot be overstated. Thank you and God Bless Rachael and Kimberly from the 5th floor of Drinkard Health Center and Kelly, Skyelar, and Jasmine from Westminster Hospice. To longtime friend Eddie Campbell-your selflessness, companionship and acts of kindness were a true gift to Bob. If everyone had just one friend as loyal and kind as you the world would be a better place.
Tharp Funeral Home and Crematory, Lynchburg is assisting the family.
Click here to view Bob’s Celebration of Life