Samuel Bruce Walker was born on December 15, 1930, in the town of Andrews, Cherokee County, North Carolina. He was the oldest child of Gerald Benjamin Walker and Margaret Everett Walker, and brother to William Hudson Walker (b. 1933), and Kathryn Louise Walker Scott (b. 1935, d. 1969). He was raised in the Presbyterian Church.
By the time he was five, Sam had decided he wanted to be a minister on Sundays who ran a filling station and garage during the week. Then one day he saw a large, single-engine biplane pass overhead carrying airmail, and the ministry gave way to the flying bug. While building stick-and-tissue flying models, Sam decided at a young age the only way he was going to be able to fly was to join the service, preferably the Navy. At some point, Sam built a crystal set radio which added an interest in electronics to his fascination with aviation.
The family moved to Savannah, Georgia for better work opportunities for Sam’s father, and it was in Savannah that Sam attended elementary through high school, graduating from Savannah High in 1947. It was also in Savannah where Phyllis Epperson, then 14 and visiting family in Savannah, first saw her future husband, then age 16, emerging from a chicken coop after cleaning it.
Sam applied for appointment to the US Naval Academy and was chosen as an alternate. At seventeen, not convinced an appointment would come through, his parents signed for him to enlist. Sam used to tell of getting on the train in Savannah that winter, wearing a light coat that that was fine for Georgia weather, and his shock at getting off the train in an Illinois winter for the last part of his trip to Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Depending on when he told the story, the snow was anywhere from ankle deep to knee deep.
While at Great Lakes, Sam received his appointment and proceeded to Annapolis by way of the Naval Academy Preparatory School at Bainbridge, Maryland. He graduated in the Class of 1952. Sam and Phyllis dated throughout his four years at the Naval Academy, marrying in 1953. USS Coral Sea, Pensacola, Jacksonville (VP-5), Monterey (Naval Postgraduate School), Washington DC, North Island, Okinawa (VP-4), North Island again, Annapolis, Norfolk, and Philadelphia. It was a Navy life. Sam and Phyllis’ son, Scott, was born in 1955, in Jacksonville. Sam’s favorite duty station was Annapolis, where he taught classes and coached the Shields sailing team.
After twenty-two years in the Navy, he retired with the rank of Commander in 1974, and Sam and Phyllis returned to Coronado. Out of the Navy, Sam worked in the computer industry at SAIC and Cubic Corporation. He became a long-time member of the Optimist Club of Coronado and volunteered as a tax preparer on Coronado and at Naval Base San Diego. Sam retired from Cubic in 1995 and he and Phyllis took the opportunity to travel to Hawaii, Alaska, the American Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Sam’s love of airplanes took them to the EAA airshow in Oshkosh several times. In 2000, their son Scott married Nancy Freeman, and in 2005 Sam and Phyllis’ granddaughter Cecelia was born. Phyllis Walker passed away in 2013, and in 2015 Sam moved from Coronado to Evanston, Illinois to be closer to his Son’s family. Sam died on March 31, 2018, after a long illness.
Sam’s family will remember him for his wide-ranging interests, voracious reading, and a rye sense of humor. He is survived by his brother Bill, son Scott, daughter-in-law Nancy, and granddaughter Cecelia. Donations in Sam’s name may be made to Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society through their website.
Visitation was at Greenwood Memorial Park & Mortuary, 4300 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113 on April 12, 2018, and the funeral service was at Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Drive San Diego, CA 92122 on April 13, 2018.
Samuel Bruce Walker