LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Governor Asa Hutchinson delivered the following remarks at the State Capitol during the memorial service for State Representative John W. Walker Sr.
“Today, we are gathered in this Capitol Rotunda to remember the life and legacy of Representative John W. Walker Sr. Scripture instructs us that in this world we see in a mirror dimly (I Corinthians 13:12). In other words, we don’t have the right perspective of our own self and of life.
But John Walker could see more clearly. He would look in the same mirror and see the struggles of his own life … and this allowed him to see more clearly the hardships of others. Because of how he saw life, he was an effective advocate for the oppressed and downtrodden.
This week I saw a photograph of John.
John was leaning against the double wooden doors of the House chamber. He was waving with his right hand over his head, his trademark hat in his hand, his legendary smile on his face.
That is one of the many ways that I remember John.
John appeared in many photographs throughout his career.
Photographers often captured him leaning into a microphone, speaking passionately about schools.
Or they took his picture in the House of Representatives as he was deep in thought or speaking collegially with fellow legislators.
And many times, photographers snapped his picture as John had just walked through the doors at the federal courthouse, where he spent countless hours arguing for a client in a civil rights case.
John spent his life knocking on doors on behalf of others. And he knocked on doors that some wished he would have left alone. But John was willing to knock on doors so that everyone could enjoy the opportunities on the other side.
Representative John Walker and I might not have agreed on every issue. But that did not make any difference on the important issues of the heart – respect; friendship; and listening to other points of view.
When the Legislature convenes next year, there will be an empty seat on the next-to-last row in the House. His House colleagues honored him by placing white lilies in his chair. Representative John Walker will not be with us in person, but his example and spirit will long be remembered and cherished.
And now, you can imagine John … as he has passed from us. He’s opening a door, about to go through, waving farewell. You can also imagine John inviting us to walk through the door with him.
John Walker has passed through his final door here on Earth. In his passing, he has left many doors open for the rest of us. And he challenges us to open the doors for others who, for whatever reason, can’t do it for themselves.
To his family, please know that the State of Arkansas remembers the Honorable John Walker with admiration, affection and gratitude. “