Lt. Col. Leon “Larry” Walker of Parrish, FL (USAF Ret.) died unexpectedly on Dec 26, 2021 while visiting family in Chicago, IL. He was 75 years old.
Born April 27, 1946 on Charleston Naval Base in South Carolina, Larry grew up in Charleston and nearby Folly Beach, where he made his mark as a goofy-footed surfer who bowled his first perfect game at the age of sixteen. He met the love of his life, Noreen Moynihan, in middle school. Ten years later he proposed to her on Folly Beach, and they spent the next 52 years together, raising three sons and multiple rescue dogs while traveling the country and the world together.
After attending Bishop England High School and Murray Vocational School in Charleston, Larry joined the Navy, serving for four years with the “Hurricane Hunters” as an electronics tech. He then earned a B.S. in Criminology from Fresno State University and entered the Air Force upon graduation. Later, while stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, he completed his M.S. in Political Science at the University of South Dakota. His time in the Air Force brought him to Greenland, Florida, South Dakota, Colorado, the Philippines, and finally Virginia, where he retired after twenty-six years of service. Post-military, he worked for James City County Parks and Recreation for five years before retiring to Parrish, FL in 2003 with his wife Noreen.
From an early age, Larry discovered how sports and entertainment can bring communities together and serve as a healing escape during difficult times. He channeled this conviction into a unique career in the Air Force, where he developed intramural sports leagues for service members, helped build new recreational facilities on military bases, and brought in the best talent of the 80s to entertain the Air Force Academy cadets. He especially loved teaching his children, friends and neighbors obscure sports like half-rubber and crud (Google them!), and he was wayyy ahead of the pickle ball trend. His work in this arena led to his appointment as base commander at Camp John Hay in the Philippines—a beloved mountainside retreat for airmen and women stationed in the region. After retiring from the Air Force, Larry continued following this passion as deputy director for James City County Parks & Recreation, where he helped lay the groundwork for the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex, a 140,000 square foot facility opened in 2000.
To know Larry was to know someone who’d do anything to try and solve whatever problem you faced. Having lost his own father at the age of 10, he welcomed every opportunity to offer fatherly friendship, encouragement and advice not just to his own sons, but to anyone who found themselves with that missing piece in their family. His sisters, sisters-in-law, and numerous family friends all benefited from his generosity, empathy, and patience as he taught them how to swim, how to talk to boys, or how to drive a stick shift—among countless other lifelong lessons.
Larry is survived by wife Noreen of Parrish, FL, sisters Caroline (George) Alexander and Fay Walker of Charleston, three sons and their spouses: Kris & Jen Walker of Highland Park, IL, Brady & Cortney Walker of Williamsburg, VA, Zach Walker & Liza Norment of Portland, OR; grandchildren Ella, Tane, Kavan and Maisie of Highland Park, IL and Taylor, Hayden and Kemper of Williamsburg, VA; three granddogs and many nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
Larry was predeceased by his parents, Leon Walker, Sr. & Katherine Hopkins Walker, and his older brother James Hopkins.
A memorial service will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider joining the bone marrow registry at BeTheMatch.com/join. Donations to your local Boys & Girls Club or the American Cancer Society would also be a great way to honor Larry’s memory.
Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options of Schiller Park, Illinois.
I'll never forget the childhood I had with you. The movies we've seen together. My first car with you. You'll always be in my heart Uncle Larry
Donovan Thompson Jan 26 2022 1:43 AM
As a parent of one of those extra kids that Larry showed fatherly love to (namely Matt Greene), I have to express my heartfelt appreciation to him and Noreen for being there during some hard years for my boy. He has told me what it meant to have your guidance and encouragement. Larry was a gift from above. Thank-you Larry. A life well lived.
Beth Pile Jan 25 2022 9:33 PM