Col. James Madison Walker of Shelbyville, owner of Quail Valley Hunt Club of Petersburg for many years and a decorated veteran, died Sunday (Dec. 29, 2013). He was 77.
Born in rural Lincoln County, Col. “Big Jim” Walker rose to prominence as a highly decorated Army combat veteran, helicopter pilot, avid hunter, outdoorsman and owner of the Quail Valley Hunt Club in Petersburg.
A 1959 graduate of the University of Tennessee, Colonel Walker served on active duty in the United States Army from August 1959 until October 1981. He loved his country and he loved the Army. He commanded soldiers at every level from platoon to brigade. He served as a combat helicopter pilot for three years during the Vietnam War and received many awards and decorations for heroism, gallantry and high achievement in aerial combat operations against a hostile enemy. In addition to being a Master Army Aviator, “The Colonel” was also a tough as nails Army Airborne Ranger.
A lifelong hunter, Col. Walker owned and operated the Quail Valley Hunt Club in Petersburg for over 25 years. He chose to open the hunting club just a few years after his retirement from the Army and after a successful stint as an army aviation consultant. Big Jim shared his passion for bird hunting with thousands of hunters from every skill level. Hunters came from around the country to bird hunt at Quail Valley, but more importantly, they came just to spend time and make friends with the legendary “Big Jim” Walker.
Big Jim Walker lived large, loved life and loved people. He was an American original and truly one of a kind. He has thousands of friends and friendships that he loved and cherished very much, but his proudest accomplishment was his family. His father, James Edwin Walker, and his mother, Clara Estelle Edde Walker, preceded him in death. He is survived by a sister, Linda Thompson, and a brother, Charles Michael Walker.
He is also survived by his wife of over 58 years, Jane Gillum Walker, and three sons and daughters-in-law, Lt. Col. (Ret.) James Madison Walker, Jr. and Niki Styles Walker, Robert Carl Walker and Dr. Laura Cox and Joseph Mark Walker and Teresa Beard Walker. He is survived by ten grandchildren: Amanda Walker Durham, Dr. Sarah Walker Metelka, Jessica Leigh Walker, Emily Jane Walker, James Madison Walker, III, Claire Edde Walker, Samuel Joseph Walker, Rachel Marie Walker, James Clay Walker and Benjamin Matthew Walker. He is survived by two great-grandchildren, Amelia Grace Durham and Hanna Claire Durham.
Funeral services were conducted Monday morning at The Lynchburg Funeral Home. An interment service was held at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery, Nashville.
The family requests memorial donations are made to either the Sarah Cannon Fund, 310 25th Avenue North, Suite 103, Nashville, TN 37203, or to the Army Aviation Association of America Scholarship Foundation, Inc., 593 Main Street, Monroe, CT 06468.
Lynchburg Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.