John Neal Walker, 87, of 208 Crest Drive died on Monday, February 18, 2013.
He was born in Graham, North Carolina, the son of William Bason Walker of Prospect Hill and Cornelia Moss Wilkinson of Ridgeville. His grandparents were Gabriel Lea and Ida Bason Walker of Prospect Hill and Daniel E. and Eliza Hughes Wilkinson of Ridgeville.
A memorial service will be conducted by his minister, Steven Wicks on Tuesday, February 26 at 2 p.m. at the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends after the service in the church fellowship hall or at the home at other times. Visitation at Tyndall Funeral Home will be on Monday, February 25, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Interment will be at the Memorial Garden in Montreat, North Carolina at a later date.
Walker is survived by daughters Ann Fulton Walker of Winston-Salem and Lea Ravenel Walker of Raleigh, grandsons Dalton Prioleau Marshall and Stuart Haizlip Marshall of Raleigh, a niece and three nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 60 years, Margaret Adger Fulton Walker, their daughter Patricia Neal Walker, and his brothers Daniel Lea Walker and William Bason Walker, Jr.
Johnny grew up in Burlington, was a member of First Presbyterian Church, and attended Burlington High School where he played football and tennis, and appeared in several dramatic productions. He was a 1947 graduate of Davidson College, his beloved alma mater, where he played football and tennis, was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and was given the Alumni Service Award in 2002. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1949.
He served in the United States Navy during World War II as a lieutenant (junior grade), playing football for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while in the V12 program there. Walker was stationed at Asbury Park, New Jersey and attended midshipman’s school at Northwestern in Chicago. Later he served as fire marshal aboard the Essex class aircraft carrier, USS Tarawa.
Starting in January, 1950, he was employed for over forty years by the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, thirty-five as president. While there, he inaugurated the New Year’s Eve pickle drop, introduced sugar-free pickle products, and developed many marketing programs to promote the Mt. Olive brand from the corner of Cucumber and Vine. Innovations in food science and crop enhancements were also endorsed and championed by him. Johnny served on the Pickle Packers International board of directors for thirty-five years, was its president for two, and was a winner of its Silver Shadow Award for leaders in the pickle industry.
He has been a member of the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church since 1950, serving as elder, deacon, treasurer, trustee, clerk of session, and Sunday school teacher.
Johnny was a charter member of the Mount Olive Jaycees, served as its president, and received its Distinguished Service Award in 1962. He served on the boards of Davidson College, Mount Olive College, St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Southern Bank, The Salvation Army, Flynn Home in Goldsboro, and the Medical Benevolence Foundation. He took an active interest in young people as evidenced by his involvement with the Read to Succeed program in the local schools and a county mentoring program. He was honored to have the tennis facility at Mount Olive College named for him in 2002 and to be recognized on the Wayne County Wall of Fame in 2003.
Among his favorite things were playing tennis doubles with Farfour, Thunberg, and Winslow in Goldsboro, his Border collies Mo and Molly, vacations in Montreat, meals with the Southern Belle family, and dear friends Ed Sutton, Bill Moore, Byron Bryan, Charlie Thompson, Lindsay Warren, and Lawrence Crocker. He regularly attended and enjoyed reunions of his high school and college classmates, serving as master of ceremonies for many years at annual events in Burlington, and frequently returning to Davidson with the war years alumni and for sporting events.
Those wishing to commemorate Johnny’s life may consider memorial gifts to: The Davidson Trust, Davidson College, Box 7174, Davidson, NC 28035; The Montreat Fund, Mountain Retreat Association, Post Office 969, Montreat, NC 28757, or Mount Olive College (John N. Walker Memorial Fund), 634 Henderson Street, Mount Olive, NC 28365.
A Tyndall Service.