No story of Coconut Grove can overlook the contributions of the region’s first black settlers in the late 1800s, lured by the promise of work — people like William and Catherine Anderson, and Josephine Walker, grandparents to George Eugene Walker Jr. Families like these helped build the Episcopalian churches that reflected the lively Caribbean houses of worship they had left, as well as the homes and businesses that define the Grove for many.
Walker, born in Coconut Grove on April 18, 1922, died at 94 in New York on Nov. 23.
In the days of segregation, after the Grove was annexed to Miami in 1925, young black men like Walker often went to New York City to find better paying jobs. Though he spent more than 40 years as a driver with the New York City Bus Department, Walker never forgot his roots in the Grove.
“He made friends easily and enjoyed traveling back and forth from Miami to New York,” said cousin Thelma Gibson, president of the Grove’s Thelma Gibson Health Initiative. “He was a Coconut Grove native from a historic family of Bahamian background and spent all of his childhood here. Whenever he was here he made contributions to the community and to Christ Episcopal Church where he was baptized.”
Gibson, founder of the first women’s chamber of commerce in Miami-Dade, reflects on how deeply woven into the region’s fabric Walker, a graduate of George Washington Carver Senior High School, had become. “It’s amazing. There are a lot of people in his age group who are dead.… He truly was a people person and enjoyed being with family and friends.”
Walker is survived by his children Emory Todd Walker, Iris Michelle and Cherise Walker, and grandson Emory Todd Walker. A viewing will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Range Funeral Home, 3384 Grand Ave. in Coconut Grove. Services follow at 11 a.m. Tuesday at The Historic Coconut Grove Cemetery, 3650 Charles Ave.