James D. Walker, 83 of Lincoln and formerly of Kearney and Overton area, died Friday, March 4, at Bryan LGH Medical Center East in Lincoln. Funeral services will be today, March 10, at 10:30 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Kearney. The Revs. Eric Lesher and Rebecca Craig will officiate. Interment will be at 2:30 p.m. at Westerville Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the church. On-line condolences may be submitted to osafh.com. O'Brien Straatmann Funeral Home in Kearney is in charge of arrangements.
Jim was born Aug. 17, 1927, in Omaha at the Methodist Hospital. Shortly thereafter he came to make and be a part of the home of James and Nina (Leach) Walker who resided in the Westerville community of Custer County.
Jim attended a one-room country grade school and graduated from Ansley High School class of 1945. At an early age he confessed Christ as his personal savior and was baptized into the membership of the Methodist Church, the denomination he held most of his life. Because his parents were not of good health, Jim elected to stay on the farm thus he was given deferment from military service following WWII. In the winter months, he worked as a mechanic in Broken Bow.
June 6, 1948, he was united in marriage to Elaine Berdeen Moore at the United Brethren Church in Broken Bow and made their home on a farm in the Westerville community. Three children were born to this union; Carolyn Jo, James D. Jr, and Janet Elaine. In 1957, the family left Westerville and moved to farm and ranch in the Cumro community.
In 1963, the Walkers had an auction of their equipment and livestock and moved to Kearney where Jim entered Kearney State College graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in education in 1967. Jim felt called to the Christian ministry, but upon graduation the door to this vocation appeared closed; therefore, the family moved to Overton where Jim began a teaching career, a career combined with ministry which would be his lot in life for the next 25 years. Continuing his education, he received his first master of arts degree in 1969, his second master’s in 1974, and his specialist degree in 1982. He had also pursued graduate studies at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
In 1965, he was appointed to be the first Baptist Campus Minister at Kearney State College, a position he held till he graduated. Also in 1965, he was appointed pastor of the Baptist Church in Glenvil and the Community Church of Juniata and served these churches for the next nine years.
Jim served various churches on a part time or interim basis the remainder of his life, even after retirement. For a year he served as associate pastor of the Southeastern Nebraska Parish of the United Methodist Church and moved to similar role in the North East Nebraska Parish. Those who knew him best as a school administrator remarked that the Holy Bible was always in view on his desk. He lived his faith.
Jim served some of the educational needs of young people in eight school districts as a teacher, counselor, Principal and finally as Superintendent. In 1992, at the age of 65, Jim retired from the position of Superintendent of Schools in Stapleton. He and Elaine moved back to Overton where he took up woodworking and restoring old Farmall tractors.
In January 2003, Jim and Elaine moved to Kearney following the tragic death of their daughter Janet where they made a second home for their grandchildren. They joined the First Lutheran Church where their daughter and grandchildren were members.
While Jim was active in education, he held memberships in the Nebraska Council of School Administrators, The Nebraska State School Board Association and the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association. Upon his retirement the Stapleton Public Schools presented him with a lifetime membership to the Nebraska Council of Retired School Administrators. Wher-ever possible, he was an active member of the local Lion’s Club International.
Jim leaves to morn his passing his loving wife, Elaine, of 63 years; daughter, Carolyn Jo Lippire of Moreno Valley, Calif.; son, James Walker Jr. of Lincoln; three grandchildren, Kristi Linn Lippire of Los Angeles, Calif., Melissa Jo Wamsley of Kearney, Richard Michael Wamsley of Kearney; great-grandson, Daniel Hernandez, plus many relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter, Janet Elaine.