Upstate Icon D.B. Walker Celebrates 100th Birthday

Spending two days celebrating a 100th birthday can be a tiring affair.

"I feel all right," said D.B. Walker after waking from a nap as family and friends gathered at his home Monday afternoon. The night before, more than 100 people, including relatives from as far away as Michigan and New Jersey, dined with him at an Anderson restaurant.

Walker has lived a full life, leaving a rich legacy as a World War II veteran, businessman, math teacher, pastor and former Anderson City Council member. He has two daughters, two grandsons, four great-grandchildren and a great-great grandchild. Walker's wife, Amanda, and one great-granddaughter have died.

His oldest daughter, Gloria Vessels, said Walker "reached out and tried to help people at all times."

Vessels also recalled the support she received from her father.

"Whatever I said I wanted to do, he was behind me 100 percent," said Vessels, who now runs D.B. Walker & Co. Funeral Services, which her father founded in 1963. They live next door to the funeral home on Cleveland Avenue in Anderson.

Vessels said she was unsure that this week's celebration of Walker's 100th birthday would take place when he was released from the hospital and came home under hospice care in February. His physician had discontinued his medication for congestive heart failure.

"I didn't think we were going to have him for long," she said. "But once he came home, he got better instead of getting worse."

"My daddy is not ready to die," Vessels added.

Curtis Martin came from Charlotte to present Walker with a birthday card Monday.

In a strong voice, Walker ticked off the names of several of Martin's relatives.

Martin said he remembers his father telling him about playing baseball with Walker, who was a catcher with a cannon for an arm.

"He is a straight-up man," Martin said. "He tried to do everything right."

Peggy Ellis, 72, said she was 10 years old when Walker baptized her at Liberty Baptist Church in Honea Path, where he served as pastor for 45 years.

"He was a good person and a good preacher," she said. "We loved him."

Walker was the first black man elected to the Anderson City Council, said Councilwoman Beatrice Thompson. She was elected as the council's first black member in 1976, two years before Walker.

"He was a quiet man who worked hard for his community," said Thompson, who attended Sunday's birthday celebration for Walker at Tucker's restaurant.

D.B. Walker Park on Jefferson Avenue is named for the former councilman, who served alongside Thompson for 22 years.

Vessels said the park "gave the children, especially on the east side of town, and the adults somewhere to go."

Walker's niece, Beblyn Beaty, said he used wit and wisdom to offer encouragement to his family and others.

Beaty recalled two valuable pieces of advice that Walker passed along: "If you're good to people, people will be good to you," and "to have friends, you have to be friendly."

Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM


 

 

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