Leading With Purpose: Dr. Walker

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Dr. Eugene Pier variety of thin including:

Coach; Professor; Vice Preside Doctor; Senator; Chairman; a Commission

However, he w be simply calle humility, Gene

Though standin through his m trailblazing ach of service th distinction.


Gene grew up in the mill town of Thomaston, Georgia, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a few years before the civil rights movement began. Gene and his two sisters were raised by an extended matriarchy, including his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. But his Grandma Emma ran the household and instilled within him a work ethic, a sense of values, and a desire to "never be anything less than the best." He once said, "Being the best means setting a good example for others, and that is what I choose to do. I believe the greatest calling in life is to provide a service."

Gene often talks about the "Golden Gift" that his Grandma gave him called the "Five Fs" that have powerfully shaped his personal and professional life:

1 Have Feelings Be Forgiving Forge Ahead Maintain the Faith

Focus on Education, Respect, & Responsibility 2

Though all those Fs feature prominently in Gene's story, the Focus on education, respect, and responsibility is a Golden Thread that runs through his impressive list of achievements.

At Drake High School, Gene excelled at both football and basketball. But after graduating in 1954, he went to work at a service station. One day, the football coach at Clark Collegein Atlanta stopped by and offered Walker an athletic scholarship. But Geneturned the coach down, saying his family needed his support When he got home, Gene told Grandma Emma about declining the coach's offer, and he says, "She told me that I would go to Atlanta, and that I would get my lessons, and that I would play football and basketball. She said I was going to get that education!" 3 4 5

So he went to Clark College and was a standout football and basketball player, leading his basketball team to the SIAC Championship his senior year. And he did get that education, attaining a Bachelor's Degree in Social Science in 1958. In his continued educational pursuits, he would go on to earn:

The Experienced Teacher Fellowship and a Certificate in Southern History from Johns Hopkins University in 1968;

A Master in History from Atlanta University in 1969; and

The Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and a Ph D in History from Duke University in 1978.

Grandma Emma would've been proud of Gene. But she, unfortunately, passed away during his sophomore year at Clark College when Gene was still questioning the merits of leaving his service station job Gene once said, "It took me a little while to get used to the idea and see how much vision she had. To see how unselfish she was. I hate to think what would've happened to me if she hadn't made me go to school. I've dedicated my life to her. I know what education can do. I'm an example of it."

In the early years of his professional career, Gene coached football and basketball at Drake from 19581968 and won Georgia Class A basketball championships in 1961 and 1962. During this period, he met the love of his life, Patricia Carter, whom he would marry in 1961 She has remained faithfully by his side for 62 years

Gene later taught history and was an assistant football and basketball coach at his alma mater Clark College from 1968 to 1971. He then served as Vice President of Personnel and Community Relations at DeKalb College and Executive Vice President at DeKalb Technical Institute.

I KNOW WHAT EDUCATION CAN DO. I'm an example of it

In1984, Genewas elected State Senator for the 43rd Georgia Senatorial District, the first person of color to represent DeKalb County in the Senate During his tenure of eight years,hewas the first person of color to hold the position of Majority Whip of the Georgia State Senate and served as Chairman of the Georgia Reapportionment Committee, which is assigned once every ten years to provide equity, fairness, and projections of the State of Georgia constituency Hesponsored a number of bills in the Senate seeking to establish fair housing laws, create minority small business development corporations, and extend the statute of limitations to allow for the prosecution of claims over asbestos He was also appointed as a member of the Governor's Task Force on Adult Literacy and the Joint Special Study Committee on the Problems of the Homeless.

In1988, Dr. Walker served as the co-chairman of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Georgia presidential campaign and waselected the first-ever vice chairman of a Georgia Democratic convention delegation. Jackson would go on to win the Georgia primary.

In 1992, Dr. Walker ran for the newly created 11th District congressional seat with education at the top of his campaign agenda He was quoted at that time as saying, “Education is not just the foundation for economic prosperity. It's also our best weapon in combatting the ignorance and hopelessness that can lead to poverty, crime, drugs, and AIDS." the ignorance and hopelessness that can lead to poverty, crime, drugs, and AIDS."

He also promised that if elected, he would fight for health care reform that would provide basic coverage for all Americans Though that bid for Congress ultimately came up short, he continued to champion those causes over the next three decades of public service.

In January 1995, Dr Walker was appointed by Governor Zell Miller and approved by the Board of the Department of Juvenile Justice as their Commissioner. While there, he advocated that his "Seven Pillars of Character" – respect, responsibility, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship, caring, and spirituality – be the foundation for all the Department's work with youth

Dr. Walker was once asked what to share the best advice he ever received, to which he replied: "Treat other people like I would like to be treated." Those Seven Pillars show he has followed that advice, evident by his distinguished service on WestCare's Board of Directors He has been there since the early years of WestCare Georgia. He has helped guide their growth to provide various vital community services in Atlanta, Carrollton, and Barnesville.

Dr Walker served as Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice until 1999 when Governor Roy Barnes appointed him to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, where he served through 2006. From 2001 to 2009, Dr. Walker served as chairman of the Development Authority of DeKalb County, the Private Hospital Authority of DeKalb County, and the Senior Residential Care Authority of DeKalb County. Dr. Walker was then chosen to represent District 9 of the DeKalb County Board of Education, where he served as chairman until 2013.

During his distinguished career, Dr Walker has been the recipient of a variety of prestigious resolutions, proclamations, citations, commendations, and awards, including:

The Presidential Achievement Award in 1986, from the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, in recognition of his achievements and outstanding service;

The Black Georgian of the Year award in 1987, fromthestate Committee on the Life and History of Black Georgians, for his contributions to Georgia and the nation;

The Nathaniel Mosby Humanitarian Awardin 2020, which celebrated his commitment to tireless community service and outstanding dedication to being an agent for positive change; and

The Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award is the highest honor given on the state level to any citizen

He is also a member of the:

The Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame; The Clark Atlanta University Athletic Hall of Fame; and

The SIAC Sports Hall of Fame.

Dr. Walker's contributions to the mission of WestCare have also earned him recognition. In February 2023, Dr. Walker was named Chair Emeritus in honor of his many years of outstanding service to WestCare Georgia's Board of Directors In May 2023, WestCare's facility in Carrolton, Georgia, was renamed the Dr. Eugene Walker Youth Academy. Dr. Walker also serves as a Co-Chair of the WestCare Foundation Board of Directors Diversity, Race, and Social Justice Committee with Col Jack Scharrett

Though reaching the pinnacle of educational and professional success and being called a litany of titles, Dr. Walker is first and foremost a family man and treasures being called Husband, Dad, and Grandpa Gene and Pat Walker have two sons, Jarvis Brown and Eugene P "Peter" Walker Jr ; a daughter, Alicia Kelly; six grandchildren, Taneka Newsome, Latrice Brown, Eugene Pierce Walker III, Candace Kelly, Cameron Kelly, and Kaya Kelly; and one great-grandchild, Eugene Phirun Walker IV.