Number One Bear fan dies Monday at 54
Longtime Pierce County Sports Fan Bill Walker has died.
Walker, 54, passed away Monday afternoon, following an extended illness.
Walker had just recently been inducted as the 12th member of the Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
An official enshrinement into the Hall of Fame will take place later this year, but a small, personal induction ceremony was held recently at Harborview Pierce County Nursing Home as Walker’s health rapidly declined.
Hall of Fame Committee Member John DuPont and Walker’s brother, Lawton Walker, and brother-in-law, Richard Griffis, were present for the induction.
DuPont fought back tears this week as he remembered his longtime friend.
“Bill’s fervent loyalty established the standard by which all fans should follow and I’m proud to have called him a friend. Though there are many tears being shed today, those who knew and loved Bill ... rejoice in the knowledge that he is — at long last — whole. Until that great getting up day for us all — Go Braves! Go Dawgs! Go Bears!,” DuPont said.
DuPont and other local sports fans hailed Walker’s commitment to the Pierce County Bears, Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Braves sports.
“Bill has always been an original and we now have proof as he is the first fan to gain enshrinement into the Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame. I am thankful we were able to do that for him. Nowadays you have lots of self-proclaimed super fans who go to great lengths to get on ESPN and whatnot. But Bill’s loyalty has never been self-serving. He has always been tried and true out of his love for the team, the sport, and the players. That’s the way it should be,” says DuPont.
For many years Walker has served as an “outstanding sports ambassador for Pierce County”, both as a participant, but primarily as a fan.
Walker earned tennis lettermen status at Patterson High School and Pierce County High School, participated in men’s softball leagues, and traveled countless hours and miles along Patterson streets promoting the many benefits of bicycling. Walker has also served as an assistant coach for numerous recreation league teams in the City of Patterson and his name graces the playing fields at the city recreation complex.
However, it is as a sports fan that he has made a significant contribution to sports.
Walker has been a dedicated fan of the Pierce County Bears, Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Braves. He sometimes also allowed room for other teams and was a fan for them, too.
DuPont recalls one such occasion during a Daytona 500 NASCAR race he, Walker, Lon Byrd and Herbie Byrd attended in 2006.
“Bill never gave up on anyone for losing. But he has been known to make room for others on his list. Bill was a Jeff Gordon fan at that point and that wound up being the day Jimmie Johnson won his first Daytona 500. Bill walked into the Daytona Super Speedway that day wearing a #24 cap, but he walked out wearing #48,” DuPont recalls. “When I asked him about it he said, ‘It’s okay. Jeff is the car owner for Jimmie’s team.’”
“He has established a standard of faithfulness unmatched by anyone in the known sports universe. Bill’s “team first” attitude and fervent loyalty – whether his team wins or loses – has helped his teams secure numerous championships and established the standard which all fans should follow,” DuPont says.
In addition to his sports fandom, Walker was recognized as a community Bright Spot award winner in 2010 and was a member of Patterson Baptist Church.
Visitation will be held from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Patterson Baptist Church.
A celebration of his life will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, from the Patterson Baptist Church.
For a complete obituary, please see page 9.