The Rev. Claude Walker ’77 DMin, an honorary trustee of Brite Divinity School, built his life around faith and education.
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The Rev. Claude Walker, 1934-2018. Courtesy of the Family of The Rev. Claude Walker
He was a groundbreaker as the first African-American to earn a doctorate of ministry from Brite Divinity School. He also was the first African-American to receive a master’s degree from Lexington Theological Seminary.
He was on the Brite Board of Trustees for 10 years before being named to the honorary position in 2015.
He died July 27, 2018, in Dallas. He was 84.
On the board, Walker helped keep members grounded when discussions, especially on how to increase the diversity of the faculty and student body, got “esoteric,” said Paul R. Ray Jr., Brite chairman of trustees. Walker would reel his peers back in, saying, “Here’s the practical reality,” Ray said.
“He was fundamentally an educator,” said D. Newell Williams, Brite president. Walker was teaching at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, when they met.
“He really loved young people,” said Sherley Walker, his wife. One of the ministries he enjoyed most, she said, was Right Alternatives for People (RAP), a program he led in Dallas to keep children in school and on a positive track.
His faith was strong from early on. As a child in Virginia, he played preacher, making his siblings line up chairs and be the congregation.
In Walker’s career, he was senior pastor to churches in Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Kansas City, Mo.; Dallas; and Longview, Texas.
“He was a very gregarious person,” his wife said. “You couldn’t be in his presence long before he’d have you chuckling.”
— Linda Stallard Johnson
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