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Published: Friday, 5/31/2013

Barbara G. Walker, 1938-2013: Rector’s wife advocated for Old West End

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Barbara G. Walker, who became a champion of her adoptive neighborhood, the historic Old West End, in her adoptive hometown of Toledo, died May 23 in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. She was 74.

She was in ill health recently, her daughter, Carolyn “Gigi” Boyle, said.

Mrs. Walker and her late husband, the Rev. Dennis Walker, moved to Toledo in 1988 so he could serve as interim rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Collingwood Boulevard. And the couple fell for the neighborhood. Her husband was events chairman in 1993 for the annual community celebration, the Old West End Festival, and the event was dedicated to the Walkers for their devotion to the neighborhood. Her husband died June 7, 1993, the day after the festival ended.

“She loved the Old West End and never wanted to leave it,” her son, John Hunsley, said. “She loved the grand old homes and many of the people who owned them.”

After her husband's death, she was manager of Old West End Security, in which residents pay a fee toward the hiring of a private security patrol. She helped with the neighborhood newsletter and attended Old West End Association meetings.

“We have such a diverse community, and it just worked. She was very much respected by everyone,” said Kent Illenden, chairman of the neighborhood’s Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum, where two hemlocks are dedicated to her husband. Her name will be added to the dedication plaque, he said.

One year, Mrs. Walker and the late Janet Roberson were chairmen of the festival.

“What was fun about that was it was the first time that two women had taken on that responsibility entirely,” Mr. Illenden said. “She and Jan decided that their favorite colors were teal and purple, and they made the festival a teal and purple theme.

“When someone is nonjudgmental and so open as Barbara was, then you are loved, period, and this neighborhood is all about those types of individuals,” he said. “She was always so positive.”

Mrs. Walker also worked for several years as a box office manager at the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.

She was born June 19, 1938, in Chicago. She was adopted by Ruth and Dr. John Glenn and grew up in Santa Fe. She sang in school and church choral groups, received operatic training, her son said, and later was in the chorus for musicals at the Santa Fe Community Theatre.

“Singing was her release, her escape,” her son said. “It was the one thing she felt she was pretty good at.”

She attended Arizona State University and a business college in Santa Fe. She was a secretary at Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Santa Fe.

She and Father Walker married in June, 1976, in Cincinnati. She was with him as he was assigned, before Toledo, to posts in South Charleston, W.Va., and Lima, Ohio. Despite her onstage turns and church solos, she was an introvert, her children said.

“It took a lot for her to do things with people,” her son said.

Father Walker liked to hold dinner parties and invite friends and parishioners home. “She became a strong lady to back him up,” her son said. “She would help with things in the church. She was very involved in the community and was well-loved and well taken care of [by] the church and her friends after Dennis passed.”

She was formerly married to the late George Hunsley.

Surviving are her son, John Hunsley; daughter, Carolyn “Gigi” Boyle; stepsons, Dennis, Jr., and Timothy Walker; stepdaughter, Rebecca Walker; sister, Merry Dikeman; two stepgrandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. July 4 in the Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum, West Delaware and Robinwood avenues. Arrangements are by the Walker Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Bethesda, Md.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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