William C Walker Jr. (Bill)

Published 10:36 am Tuesday, June 6, 2023

William C Walker Jr. (Bill) shuffled off his mortal coil on May 26th in Oxford, Mississippi at the age of 79, passing through nature to eternity. He was born September 25th, 1943 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Forrest City, Arkansas, where he met JoAnn, his wife of 59 years. They both graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1966 with English degrees.

Bill and JoAnn eloped in 1964, getting married in Pickens, South Carolina by a one-armed justice of the peace and continuing to New York City to see “A Funny Thing” on Broadway, something he had wanted to do since seeing “HMS Pinafore” in high school and falling in love with opera and musical theatre.

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In 1968 and 1971 Bill and JoAnn had their first two children. Bill taught English at Memphis State and Tulane, immersing himself in his lifelong love of poetry, Shakespeare, and the English language.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

When Bill realized an English degree wouldn’t cut it with two kids, he decided to go to law school at Vanderbilt, graduating top of his class. After a Dickensian stint at a Memphis law firm as a clerk, he left to teach law at Loyola. In New Orleans Bill and JoAnn had their third child.

In 1978 Bill was offered a job teaching law at Ole Miss where he became a tenured professor. Soon realizing that working at the university was not much better than the clerk job in Memphis, he left and started his private practice in Oxford. Bill was never comfortable with a boss. His deep understanding of the English language was the best foundation one could have for practicing law.

Held in high esteem as one of the best and smartest plaintiff’s lawyers in Mississippi, Bill continued to help people across the state until his last year. He tried many cases over forty plus years, including winning punitive damages in the first and only case against big insurance after Katrina where he said in his closing argument that the insurance company had breached their contract by denying his clients’ claim, adding that they acted like a chiseler and only listened to the pocketbook. His windmills were real.

In Mississippi he was able to immerse himself into his lifelong love of horses and bird dogs, winning many amateur trials, the National once, and becoming a member of his local amateur field trial club at Hell Creek, Mississippi.

Bill and JoAnn continued to visit New York City and New Orleans with their children, seeing many, many Broadway shows and eating amazing food.

Bill was always the life of any party, generous to a fault, and brilliant to the end.

The magnificent cause of being,

The imagination, the one reality

In this imagined world

Leaves you

With him for whom no phantasy moves,

And you are pierced by a death.

Bill leaves behind JoAnn, his wife of 59 years, three children, Bill, Alice, and Annie, and three grandchildren, Henry, Lilly, and Amelia.

The family will be having a private service, and a public reception will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Region 6 Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America at:

Region 6 AFTCA

c/o Lisa Little, Secretary

1301 Ross Drive

Woodlawn, TN 37191