Ernest Walker
Ernest Walker

Obituary of Ernest Walker

Ernest Howard “Bud” Walker, 93, of Jacksonville, died Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at Lavender Ridge Memory Care in Jacksonville.

Friends will gather 11 a.m. Saturday at Williamson Funeral Home in Jacksonville. Military rites will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the Jacksonville Country Club. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation, where a scholarship for young golfers will be established in Bud’s name.

Ernest Howard was born October 3, 1924, the son of Hayden and Dovie (Hart) Walker. Upon meeting her baby brother, his sister proclaimed him “my little Buddy” and the nickname stuck. Bud had a Norman Rockwell childhood in Jacksonville — as a boy, he delivered the Jacksonville Courier to the entirety of South Jacksonville. As a teen, he played football (the bench, mostly) for the Jacksonville High School Crimsons and forged friendships that would last his entire life. In the decades following high school graduation, Bud continued his many local friendships on the golf course and over cups of coffee.

He married Irene “Trudy” Scesny on June 23, 1947, in Trudy’s parents’ backyard in Wyandotte, Michigan, and she preceded him in death October 31, 2014. He graduated in 1950 from the University of Illinois in Champaign with a degree in Architecture.

He is survived by his children, Mike (JHS ’76) (Leah) of Salem, Oregon, Rennelle Walker (JHS ’69) of Jacksonville, and Tara Walker (JHS ’68) of Anchorage, Alaska; his grandchildren, Dayton and McKale Walker of Salem, Oregon, Renessa Linstromberg (JHS ’01)(Philip Thomas) of Birmingham, Alabama, and Bre Linstromberg (JHS ’99)(Steve) Copper of Jacksonville; and his great-grandson, Walter Henry Copper of Jacksonville. He was preceded in death by his sister, Veta May Hornbeck.  

Bud served his country as a ball turret gunner in the United States Navy during World War II. He was stationed in Chicago Navy Pier and Miami, Florida, where, as he joked, he “spotted more beach babes than German submarines.”

Bud met his future wife when he was picked up hitchhiking with a few of his fellow servicemen by Trudy’s eldest sister, who selected Bud to accompany Trudy to a town dance after scanning the group of soldiers and declaring him “the most innocent-looking” of the bunch.

Bud was a savvy businessman and played a key role in shaping the city of Jacksonville. He owned and operated Walker Motor Company on West Morton Avenue for more than 40 years, where the motto was, “When Others Won’t, Walker Will!” Bud achieved numerous national sales goals and met Henry Ford II as part of a ceremony honoring top car sales executives in the United States. Together with several other local investors, Bud developed the Lincoln Square Shopping Center, the Dunlap Hotel, and the High School Apartments on West State Street. He was also instrumental in establishing the Westfair subdivision and in the development of St. Andrew’s Drive (where he and Trudy lived for 45 years in a home Bud designed down to the nail heads). He was a founding member of the Sherwood Eddy YMCA, past president of the Jacksonville Elks Club, and a life-time member of the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club and the Jacksonville Country Club, where he got his golf handicap down to 3 (well, maybe 5).

Bud and Trudy enjoyed winters in Bonita Springs, Florida, for 23 years. There, Bud relished golfing and backwater and deep sea fishing.

Bud was lucky in love and business and in the health of his family; really, all the big things. But he was also the guy most likely to win the odd door prize, or score a pair of Cardinals tickets, or come upon a cardboard box by the side of the road containing an unmarked mink coat (Bud later presented the coat to Trudy as a surprise gift). He was that kind of lucky.

He was always the life of the party, and that’s the way he liked it. 

Bud was a happy raconteur with a rich vein of stories to mine all threaded with humor and adventure. There were favorites that he returned to again and again — “Stop me if you’ve heard this before,” he would say.                

No one ever did.

 Family and Friends will gather at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at Williamson Funeral Home where Military Rites will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. A private burial will be held at Woodwreath Cemetery near New Berlin.