Robert E. Walker, 89, of Galesburg, died Saturday March 1, 2014 at Seminary Manor.
He was born October 29, 1924, the son of Jesse Elmer and Mary T. “Mae” Jordan Walker of Galesburg.
He attended local schools, and began working at age 13 after school to help support his family. One of his early jobs was as custodian at the East Main Street Congregational Church. He got up at 3:30 am on Sunday mornings to start the boiler before church services. He graduated from Galesburg High School in the Class of 1942. In the fall of 1942, he attended classes at Bradley University in the daytime, and worked for Illinois Power Company in the afternoon and evening. He oiled the machinery in the power plant and looked after it. Soon, he heard from a friend about a job at Western Union working on the power lines. So he applied, and got the job. He took the train to E. St. Louis, then to Ohio where he dug holes for posts and strung wires for Western Union. There he received a notice from the draft board to report for active duty.
He had basic training at Ft. Bowie, Texas. A captain there decided to send him to radio school. After 3 months, he knew how to fix radios, and he was assigned to drive a truck with a corps radio in the trailer it pulled. The truck was kept running all the time so the radio would be on to receive messages. The truck also carried radio parts and radios for the whole battalion. First, the battalion was in England, and then went across the English Channel to France. There, they fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where Hitler tried to take over France. Robert was not at the front lines, but was back with the officers because he drove the radios. He kept driving the radio truck throughout the battle. He came through alive, the Americans won the battle, and Hitler did not take over France. He was grateful for all of those outcomes.
He also served in Ardennes, and in the Rhineland in Belgium. When WWII ended, he came back to the US, and on December 22, 1945, he was honorably discharged from the Army at Ft. Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas. Trains were full, so he hitchhiked home to Galesburg. He arrived just before Christmas, and got a job at Purington Brick Company making Purington Pavers. Soon, he met Alice Adolphson. They were married at First Lutheran Church on July 3, 1948.
Robert was in sales. He and Alice moved to St. Louis, Mo. in 1954, where he worked downtown for Mr. Sagara. In 1958, they moved to Jefferson City, Mo. Then in 1959, they returned to Galesburg, where Robert became President of Noname, Inc., which was located on Grand Ave. They sold school equipment. He worked there until 1976, when he retired and he and Alice moved to Mo, spending time in Willow Springs and Clarksville. They returned to Galesburg in July 2011, and have since resided together at Seminary Manor.
Robert enjoyed walking outdoors with his dog, and reading books in a wide range of interests. He was preceded in death by 2 sisters, Gloria Walker, previously of Waukegan, Ill., and Jane Walker, formerly of Galesburg; and 1 brother, David Walker, formerly of Galesburg. He is survived by his wife, Alice, “the love of his life”, 2 sons, Mike Walker, of St. Paul, Minn., and Mark (and Lori) Walker of Dunlap, Ill.; and, 2 daughters, Mary Kay (and Charles) Baldwin of Antioch, Calif., and Melissa (and Craig) Morgan, of Lisle, Ill. He is also survived by 7 grandchildren.
Cremation will be accorded. Per Robert’s wishes there will be no visitation or memorial services. Memorials may be made to the Knox County Humane Society. Hinchliff-Pearson-West is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.h-p-w.com