One of South Georgia's most influential and respected music educators, Jesse Lee Walker, died Friday morning at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
Elected to the Georgia Bandmaster's Hall of Fame in 2006, Jesse Walker taught many thousands of students over a four – decade music career at Holley High School, Worth Co. High School, Monroe High, Albany State University, Troy University, and Andrew College.
He was the first black band director of Worth County High School.
Walker, and his predecessor, Eugene Wyles, was instrumental in the peaceful integration of Worth County schools in 1970.
Walker's daughter, Cicely W. Brantley says that The funeral service will be taking place on Saturday, July 2 at 11:00am at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Albany. The address of the Church is: 901 S. Westover Blvd. Albany, Georgia.
The wake will be at 6:00 Thursday evening at Shipp's Funeral Home (501 West Willingham Street Sylvester). Public viewing will be possible at Shipp's all day Friday, from 9am until 9pm.
There will be a memorial service at Albany State University's ACAD Building on Thursday at 2:00PM.
The family stresses that friends who want a final memory with Walker's body should arrive at the church at least an hour early, as the casket will not be part of the service.
In lieu of flowers, they ask people to send donations in Walker's name to the Worth Co. High Walker Memorial Fund, or to the ASU Foundation's Music Department Fund.
Walker was born in Cordele, GA on January 1942.
Albany State University issued this news release on Walker's death:
ASU mourns the loss of music legend
Albany State University suffered a great loss this morning with the death of Jesse L. Walker, assistant professor of music. Walker was a conductor of ASU's Concert Band as well as director of Low Brass and Strings Studies. He died at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital due to illness.
For more than three decades he taught band, choir and general music in Southwest Georgia. Walker was certified as a military musician at the Naval School of Music, now known as the Armed Forces School of Music. During his military career, Walker performed with the United States Army Band and Chorus Europe as well as the Seventh Army Symphony.
He earned a bachelor's degree in instrumental music education from Florida A&M University. Walker went on to earn a master's degree in music education from Georgia State University at ASU and an educational specialist degree in music education from Troy University. He also studied music education and conducting at Vandercook College of Music in Chicago with further studies at Boston University.
Walker was a Hall of Fame member of the Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. He was also a member of the Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia International Society of Bassists, the International Trombone Association and the International Tuba/Euphonium Association. Walker was the recipient of the Bandworld Legion of Honor Award and the John Philip Sousa Foundation Legion of Merit.
After retiring as band director at Worth County High School, Walker came to ASU. He remained as a music faculty member for more than a decade.
"Mr. Walker was one of the first people I met when I interviewed at Albany State," said Dr. Marcia Mitchell Hood, chair of the ASU Department of Fine Arts. "We became fast friends. Actually, we became more like family. The impact he had on our students is immeasurable. He was a supreme educator, mentor and role model for our students. He will be terribly missed."
Dr. Leroy Bynum Jr., dean of the ASU College of Arts and Humanities, said he knew of Walker's reputation as a musician long before he came to Albany State.
"He is a state treasure," Bynum said. "His influence on band music and students has spanned 40 years."
Bynum described Walker as possessing an unusual combination – the understanding of the importance of the show side of a band along with the importance of producing quality music.
"At Albany State, we're about quality of sound and also about showmanship with our marching band," Bynum said. "We have Jesse Walker to thank for that."
Copyright 2011 WALB
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