Several hundred friends, family, and former patients gathered at the Family Practice Clinic in Water Valley on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 22, to honor Dr. Joe Wayne Walker upon his recent retirement. For over forty-five years, from 1963-2009, Dr. Walker has devoted much of his life to the health care needs of Water Valley and the surrounding community.
Not limiting his time to the medical field, Dr. Walker has always been very much involved with the children’s and youth sports teams at Water Valley High School, as well as the Summer Baseball Program. He has also served as a the WVHS Football Team Physician for many years. A long-time Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Water Valley, Dr. Walker has willingly shared his personal testimony on several occasions. He plans to continue serving on a board for the Mississippi Health Program in Jackson.
As guests arrived at the reception, sponsored by Yalobusha General Hospital and Nursing Home, they were greeted and registered by former office staff worker, Melissa Kimzey, and were invited to add their brief comments of anecdotes to a memory album calendar, noted alongside their date of birth.
Next guests were treated to a view of the “U.T. Corner.” This designated area displayed Dr. Walker’s favorite team’s memorabilia and color, University of Tennessee bright orange, as well as a variety of useful “Dr. Joe’s Retirement Supplies.”
Another corner of the lobby boasted the scales, cabinets, books, and paraphernalia pertinent to a life-long career in the medical profession. Many of Dr. Walker’s family and office photographs, awards, and certificates were incorporated into the reception theme and decorations, as well as a University of TN orange Christmas tree and holiday stocking.
Albums of achieve newspaper photos and clippings provided by Nursing Home employee, Tammy Hodge, and other miscellaneous current snapshots were available for viewing as well as two continuous videos showing Dr. Walker’s prize roses and the beautiful gardens surrounding the Walker home that he and his wife, Zandra, tend together. The Walkers’ gardens have been photographed and featured in the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the February 2009 issue of “Mississippi Gardeners” magazine.
Other former staff personnel, Erin Martin, Candi Terry, Becky Haley, and others, served guests orange cupcakes adorned with a white “T” and punch kept cool with miniature ice cubes in the shape of the letter “T”, as well as a variety of cookies, candies, and fruit all served in beautiful and unique wooden containers. Additional edible offerings included samples of Dr. Joe’s favorite pizza from Coletta’s in Memphis.
During the course of the afternoon, Dr. Walker was honored with the presentation of two separate resolutions of appreciation for services rendered: first, from Hospital Administrator Terry Varner, representing the Yalobusha County Hospital Board; and second, by Mayor Larry Hart, representing the City of Water Valley.
A highlight of the reception festivities was the comments made by Dr. Walker himself, expressing his gratitude to his devoted patients, office staff, hospital employees, hospital administration, board members, fellow physicians, and the entire community of Water Valley, Yalobusha County, and beyond. Former hospital board member, Tommy White, spoke of his appreciation to Dr. Walker for a life-time of faithful service and unselfish dedication, praying God’s blessings upon him in any and all future endeavors.
His many friends wish him well and are delighted he may now relax, finally take a weekend off, or even take a vacation. Being on call round-the-clock for 365 days a year has previously prevented these options that are commonplace for most people.
His patients, on the other hand, are saddened to realize their beloved “Doc” will no longer be available at his office to listen to them with an understanding ear, treat them with expert care, and befriend them as if they were his own family. Never too busy to give of his time to others, this physician will be greatly missed.