James Louis Walker

James Louis Walker

James “Jim” Louis Walker was freed from his earthly body on March 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Jim was born in Jacksonville, Texas on May 1, 1935, to Elmer Louis and Jimmie Walker.

He grew up an adventurous country boy and his spirit of adventure continued throughout his adult life. Growing up riding his horse Molly to and from school and visiting his godfather Cerci Gothard were the joys of his youth.

In high school, he worked at the Piggly Wiggly as a butcher and spent many nights in the woods coon hunting. He enjoyed catching armadillos and putting them in girl’s lockers. That was a great sport.

After graduating from high school, Jim attended Texas Tech University, where he met his future wife, Waldine. He joined the army and served as a cook in Germany, returning to marry Waldine on New Year’s Eve 1957. For most of their lives, Jim and Waldine lived in Paris, Texas, raised their three children, and attended First Baptist Church.

Education was a large part of Jim’s life. Beginning with a degree from Texas Tech in Agriculture and continuing, Jim earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing and Registered Massage Therapist. Jim helped to develop the standards for the State of Texas Massage Therapist license. He loved doing Massage Therapy, going to the Bahamas for a year to work at a resort there.

Jim’s career was never stagnant. He taught Agriculture in High School, sold auto parts, owned a popular restaurant in Paris located on North Main named Mr Chick where he used his skills as a cook to the delight of many. During his years as a restaurant owner, he advertised in The Paris News in a recurring column entitled From the Corner of North Main and Provine and later as Mr. Chick, a Pretty Good Place to Eat. Jim used the advertisement to share his philosophy on life with others.

Retiring from the restaurant business, he worked as a midwife, psychotherapist and one of his favorite jobs was driving an 18-wheeler across the country. Waldine joined him as navigator after her retirement.

In 1998, Jim and Waldine returned home to East Texas where they purchased land between Alto and Rusk and began making his lifetime dream come true. They cleared some of the lands and built their retirement home by hand, first building a straw bale house and then a cordwood workshop. The cordwood workshop was made from wood from all the houses in Jim and Waldine’s lives. His half-acre garden is well fertilized with 20 years of grass clippings and leaves hauled in from local yards. The two-acre pond is thriving with bass and perch.

He was active in the First Baptist Church of Rusk. He helped with meals for nursing home residents, babysat at the prison on visitation days, donated blood, taught English as a second language to the Korean immigrants in Rusk, gardened year-round, made several trips with Texas Chainsaw Rescue Association crew to disaster areas (especially after Katrina), crocheted plastic bag sleeping mats for the homeless, began a community garden in downtown Rusk, and crocheted Christmas bell “corsages” for everyone he saw in December. He was always available to help neighbors and friends. Jim has never met a stranger.

Jim read hundreds of books and kept a file box of index cards with notes and comments about the books he had read. His favorite author was Steinbeck. His favorite music was Willie Nelson, boogie-woogie, Aretha Franklin and New Orleans Jazz.

After bypass surgery and a minor stroke in 2018, he moved to Assisted Living in Austin to help him deal with Alzheimer’s.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by the love of his life, his wife, Waldine; his daughter, Kathy Stewart and her husband, Roger, of Powderly and their children, Heidi and her husband, Austin and Noah; son, Jay Walker and his wife, Julia, of Austin and their son, Lindsay; son, Mike Walker and wife, Lynda, of Paris, and their children, Bryan, Chris and Andrea; as well as four great-grandchildren; sister, Mary Helen Walker Glass, of Sterling City; several nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends that he helped and encouraged throughout his life.

Jim had a great life here on earth. He is now happily digging in new dirt, with his first planting planned for later this spring. Jim is looking forward to a bumper crop of fresh sweet corn and plenty of tomatoes.

In lieu of flowers please send charitable donations to the Alzheimer’s Association @ alz.org.

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