Nancy Louise Vanwinkle Walker, age 86, of Searcy, Arkansas, passed away on June 22, 2019, in Tyler, Texas. Nancy was born on October 19, 1932 in Bay, Arkansas to Aubrey and Ora Mae Vanwinkle and following their example, Nancy became a life-long, loving servant of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
After graduating as valedictorian of her 1950 class at Bay High School, Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas where she also met and married her husband, Richard W. Walker, on December 19, 1954. Although Nancy began her career as an elementary school teacher, when she returned to work after her children were born Nancy took a position as a secretary for the Arkansas Soil Conservation Office where she was named the "Outstanding Conservation Secretary of the Year" for the East Central Area of the state in 1992.
Nancy's beautiful smile, kindness, and humility won her many friends and blessed everyone around her. For many years, she served as a gracious wife and mother while her husband taught at Harding University and preached for various small congregations outside of Searcy. She served by his side in each of the churches where he ministered. By 2018, Nancy had taught children's Bible classes for 53 years, influencing many young souls for the cause of Christ.
Nancy's Christian service continued well past the church door. Richard's students were regular guests in the Walker home. The couple frequently offered the extra room of their home to assist college students to afford a Christian education at Harding, and many missionaries were cheerfully welcomed to stay in the "Walker Hotel" at 9 Harding Drive. Nancy was a founding member of the Associated Women for Harding and was recognized as "A Worthy Woman" by that organization for her continual efforts to help Harding succeed and bless its students. Nancy and her friends also hosted and attended innumerable wedding showers and baby showers, blessing many young couples over the years. In 2013, Richard (posthumously) and Nancy were honored as the first distinguished alumni for Harding's newly-formed College of Allied Health for their work with Richard's students in Communications Disorders.
When her daughter became a missionary to Albania, Nancy facilitated her full-time service by being her primary stateside base of operations and even making near-yearly trips to spread the gospel alongside her daughter in Albania. When Nancy wasn't overseas, she shared the good news with students around the world through World English Institute and served the needy people of her hometown through many hours of service at College Church's "His House."
Although a small-town girl, Nancy enjoyed traveling the country and the world with her husband and their dear friends, Hellen and Jim Mahaffy of Jackson, Tennessee. Later on her own, she continued to explore new places with good friends Fred and Alice Jewell, Jack and Marge Ryan, and Charles Pittman, her faithful companion through their golden years.
Nancy was preceded in death by her husband and her parents. She is survived by her children Ellen Walker of Tirana, Albania; Timothy Walker and wife Kay of Nashville, Tennessee; Joseph Walker and wife Tasha of Tyler, Texas; her brother John Vanwinkle and wife Marty of Derby, Kansas; and her grandchildren Will Walker and wife Casie of Nashville, Tennessee, David Walker of Nashville, Tennessee, Darby Walker of Tyler, Texas, and Rick Walker of Tyler, Texas, and many dear nieces, and nephews.
Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., Saturday, June 29, 2019 in the Family Room at College Church of Christ, 712 E. Race Street, Searcy, Arkansas. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 29, 2019.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Nancy and Ellen Ruth Walker Women for Harding Scholarship fund.