October 23, 2021
Good morning. I’m Chuck’s son, Todd. I want to thank you all for coming this morning to honor my dad's life.
Saying "Chuck" sounds so odd, even though it’s what my dad went by all his life. As far as I know, only his mother called him Charles. Most of the time growing up, I mostly heard people of all kinds, inside and outside of sports, call him simply “coach”. Later, as his role as teacher came to the fore, he was “Dr Walker”. He played so many roles in so many different relationships with so many of you, of course no single name or label could sum up his life. Son, brother, husband, dad, grandfather, friend, mentor, deacon, professor, and on and on.
What I can say is that in all he did, in family, work, and play, my dad lived his life fully awake, with diligent intention. and with consideration for how he could benefit others — the rest of us.
I distinctly recall sitting on the floor of the gym in a mass of young campers as my dad gave the opening talk at the camp he ran at Fort Lewis. I was probably eight or nine years old. My dad asked the crowd, “Does practice make perfect?”
“No. Practice does not make perfect.”
“Perfect practice makes perfect.” Be mindful and deliberate about what you practice to improve yourself.
What I think is noticeable about this lesson is how it was so “meta”. basketball was the example, but basketball was not the subject. Life was the subject.
After Dad died, my mom sent me a booklet of quotes collected by the coaches at Snow Valley, the basketball camp he ran for years with his longtime friend, Herb Livsey. None of the quotes it contained were about shooting better jumpshots or playing better defense. All of them were about shaping one's mind and heart. And that’s the approach my dad took in so many spheres of his life.
In 1984, during his sabbatical year, he moved my mom, sister, and me to Brussels, Belgium. A huge planning effort on his part — and not terribly appreciated by the rest of us at the time. Every spare moment of that year was filled up with trips, trips to museums, monuments, history, and other cultures. Frequently the three of us would have to retrace steps through a museum to find dad plodding through the exhibit. He had to read every display, whether in English or not.
Because of course to be a teacher one must also be a student. And to be driven by curiosity, particularly of other people. He loved to talk up the wait staff in any restaurant we visited, to my eternal chagrin, find out if they were in college, where, and what they were studying. And anytime mom Kristin and I would leave dad on a mall bench while we shopped, invariably we’d return to find dad had turned a stranger into a new friend.
But of course, my dad was perhaps most diligent about growing his faith. For years, he rose early, made coffee, sat down to study his Bible, recorded his thoughts, and spent time with God. He did this to the very end, even when his handwriting grew shaky from Parkinson’s and it would have been easier just to set a habit aside. But he remained constant.
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” How many times did I hear my dad say those words? A lot. And usually when I was being less than joyful. But even as so many of the activities he loved - traveling with my mom, hiking with his brother in law Gary, eating as an adventure sport, riding his exercise bike - one by one were no longer possible, nonetheless he lived everyday with joy, an example to all of us, right to the end.