Written by Jennifer Fauci: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00
“James Michael Walker, a devastating loss; I try to say to myself it’s not what could have been so let’s talk about what he was,” is how Phil Walker describes the death of his 26-year-old son.
Walker was struck by a car while crossing a Bay Shore street on Sunday, Oct. 16. He later passed away at Southside Hospital after remaining in critical condition for five days.
“He was athletic, outgoing, compassionate and a problem solver,” said Phil, 54, a NYC correctional officer. “He had a great smile and always wanted to help the underdog.”
Walker was a creative innovator, who was always on the go and eager to start a new project. “James never dwelled on the negative, his glass was always half full,” said stepmother Maureen, 56, who works as a contractor. “His presence was enjoyed by everyone around him and he exuded an energy that could lift the lowest of spirits.”
A loving son, James always made his father proud.
“We kept good on every promise and made bargains with each other,” said Phil. “James outsmarted me all the time,” he laughed.
Walker graduated with honors from MacArthur High School in 2003 and was always a diligent student who excelled in academics and sports. Walker enjoyed being part of a team and played basketball, baseball and volleyball.
In the fall of 2003, Walker started his freshman year at Boston University (BU). Among his academics and community service, Walker played for the volleyball team, which recently renamed its annual alumni tournament in honor of their slain teammate. Friend and teammate Kevin Weiss remembers Walker as a caring friend and loyal teammate.
“James and I played volleyball together at BU for three years—I was the president of the team so James and I participated in several seasons of practice, travel, tournaments, and celebration,” said Weiss. “He was loved by everyone involved in the volleyball program: players, coaches, and family alike,” he continued.
Walker graduated from BU in 2007 with a bachelors of science in human physiology. Debbie Claar, an academic counselor at Boston University, said that Walker broke the mold when it came to being an extraordinary human being.
“It is rare to have been so influential, helpful, successful, loved and respected by so many at such a young age,” she said.
Walker’s passion for community service was acknowledged during his time at BU when he was presented with Boston University’s Sargent College Student Activity Award and the Boston University Scarlet Key Award, the highest service award given to students within the entire university. He also made the Dean’s List several times throughout his college career.
Walker’s heart of gold, intelligence and desire to be challenged made him a perfect doctor. In 2008, Walker enrolled at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM) in Old Westbury. His father always thought that Walker would become a surgeon because he was so meticulous.
“He liked the idea of going in and fixing someone,” said Phil. “But he not only fixed the patient, he would take care of the family. James always told me that the most important part of medicine is bedside manner,” he continued.
Dr. Robert Hill, chairman of the department of anatomy at the school in Old Westbury has known Walker since his first year at NYCOM. “One thing that always impressed me about James was that he treated everyone with respect, regardless of his or her position in life or society,” said Hill.
Phil always told his son that he was “the man.” The best son a father could ask for, Walker’s death sent shockwaves of pain and bewilderment among his family and friends.
Fellow BU alum and close friend Jared Jacobson was with Walker on the day of the accident.
“I was running on about four hours of sleep when I got a call from James saying that he didn’t know when his next free weekend was going to be and if I wanted to watch football with him,” said Jacobson. “If anyone else would have called, I was going to sleep. But because it was James, I told him to just give me a time and place,” he recalled.
Walker took a little piece of everyone’s soul when he passed away. His family and friends simply want him remembered. “His friends and all of the things in his honor are really helping us heal,” said Maureen.
Knowing his son, Phil believes Walker would have wanted him to have a party and remember the good times. As a son, a mentor, a friend, a confidant, a do-gooder, an excellent student, and a great source of information, Walker’s memory will continue to live on through many people.
On May 18, Walker’s would-be alma mater is holding a memorial ceremony for him where a tree will be dedicated and a scholarship fund will be formally announced in his name. The location of the memorial ceremony will be by the pond between the Riland Academic Center and Serota Building on the NYCOM campus on Northern Boulevard in Old Westbury. For more information, call Erica Bomani at (516) 686-3984 in the NYCOM Office of Student Life.
Walker continues to receive visits from his family and friends at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, where he is resting peacefully with the comfort that he will forever live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.