September 21, 1924 - April 28, 2011
Bob Walker was born September 21, 1924, joining his brother Bill and parents William Dedrick Walker and Ann Harrold Peevey in Satin, Texas. Blessed with a hard-working farmer father and education-oriented mother, he learned attributes that took him off the farm and well beyond. He honed his fielding and baseball skills bouncing a tennis ball off the steps of his home, and when he arrived at Texas A&M those skills earned him a place on the baseball team, where he beat out a scholarship player and earned a letter. His discipline and application won him the Best-Drilled Cadet award over many with more fortunate backgrounds. The army sent him to the Baylor College of Dentistry before he graduated, and during his dental training he met the beautiful and charming Emily Jo Berger, whom he married in 1947. One season of minor league ball for the Tulsa Oilers convinced him that dentistry was a more reliable form of employment. After dental school he started a practice in Waco. The Army recalled him during the Korean War, and his baseball skills led to assignment at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, site of an Army team. It was there that he was introduced to oral surgery, the specialty that became his passion for the rest of his life. After his service, he completed the required didactic year of training for oral surgery at the University of Pennsylvania and then began residency at Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Hospital in Dallas. After his residency he took over the lead of the oral surgery division at Southwestern Medical School and began working with others transforming the field. He was Chairman of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center until 1984 and continued working in the department until his death. He particularly loved to teach his skills to the interns and residents of the program, and was revered as a mentor to generations of oral surgeons who came to be called the Parkland Alums, a network of former residents across the country that included many department chairs. His contributions to his profession extended internationally, where he was involved from the beginning in 1962 in the formation of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, later serving as its president, and, along with Emily, he thoroughly enjoyed seeing their friends from around the world at the biannual meetings. He had a particular interest in developing the specialty in South America, where he and Emily made many trips, attending meetings, giving lectures, and providing training. A number of his residents came from South America, where they returned to pass on their new skills. He and Emily counted many, many friends across the continent. He strongly believed in belonging to an institution and joined and participated in all of the appropriate and available professional organizations. He served as president of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, Southwest Society of Oral Surgeons, Dallas County Dental Society, Texas Division of the American Cancer Society, and the American Trauma Society (ATS), and served on boards and as chair of many other organizations. He was humbled by the many awards and honors that came to him throughout his professional life, including the Gies Foundation Award (AAOMS), the Stone Award (ATS), distinguished service and lifetime achievement awards from AAOMS, ATS, the Texas Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the Dallas County Dental Society, a special citation from the Board of AAOMS, and distinguished alumnus awards from Baylor College of Dentistry and Texas A&M College of Science. A recent honor that he treasured was being named by the Parkland Health and Hospital System to the small group of Heroes of Our Heritage. He was grateful for this recognition by the institution whose mission he served for his entire career. The high esteem of his colleagues at the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Foundation led them to name a major fundraising society for him in 1997 to support research and education. A Chair in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UT Southwestern was named in his honor in 1992, endowed by contributions from a large number of donors. Recognition from his foreign colleagues included treasured honorary fellowships in the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Royal College of Surgeons of England, as well as associations in South America, the Philippines, and Japan. In his later years he tried to give back to the institutions that had given him a chance, advising and fundraising for Texas A&M and the Baylor College of Dentistry, as well as continuing his work with the American Trauma Society. He was a genuine lover of people, and you couldn’t get near him without a hand on the shoulder, hug, kiss, or pat on the back. He formed connections with his patients, making daily visits to those hospitalized and staying in touch for long follow-ups. He loved professional and personal writing, and many treasure the thoughtful letters he sent, written in his distinctive style. Raised in Baptist and Methodist churches, he carried his faith to the Highland Park Presbyterian Church when he married. He was an usher and greeter for 30 years, a great ministry for him to apply the people-loving gift the Lord gave him, and he also served as a deacon of the church. Given the role that sports played in his journey from Satin, it is no wonder that as a spectator he avidly followed baseball, football, and basketball, with season tickets to the professional teams which he shared with Emily, who is as big a fan as he was. But the sport that he truly participated in throughout his adult life was golf, and this took him on golfing pilgrimages to the British Isles and around the country, as well as playing any decent course within reach of any city where he was attending a meeting. Some of his best friends were his golfing buddies, both in oral surgery and at his home club, the Dallas Country Club. The flood of cards, calls, and messages received by the family attest to the regard in which he was held as a teacher, mentor, role model, colleague, healer, and friend. His death from pancreatic cancer on April 28 leaves a huge hole in his family and his wide circle of friends. He knew the many blessings and good fortune of his life were due to a higher power, and we are happy that he finally gets to thank “the Guy upstairs”. He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his loving wife and rock-steady keeper of the family, Emily Jo Walker, and his three children Robert V. Walker III (wife Mary) of Seattle; Jo Ann Walker Cosgrove (Mark) of Upland, Indiana; and Ben Judd Walker (Tara) of San Antonio. Other survivors include eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren: Walker Reed Cosgrove (Kirsten), of St. Louis; Robert William Cosgrove (Julia) and sons Mark Robert and Joel William of Holland, Michigan; Preston Barry Cosgrove (Jennifer) of Milwaukee, Ashley Brook Walker and son Braeden Corley of San Antonio; Benjamin Zachary Walker of Dallas; and Robert Davis Walker, Josephine Madeline Walker, and Emily Joe Samya Walker of San Antonio; a sister-in-law Lo Veta Berger of Fredericksburg, Texas; and numerous nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that those who may wish to contribute memorials consider directing them to the Parkland Foundation, 2777 Stemmons Fwy, Ste. 1700, Dallas, TX 75207. There will be a visitation in the Parlor of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church on Monday, May 2, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.,3821 University Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75205.(enter from McFarlin side). A memorial service is scheduled at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75205, with Dr. Ron Scates presiding, for Tuesday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m.
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