Maude “Maxine” Walker
September 2, 1919—August 15, 2013
On Thursday August 15, just 17 days short of her 94th birthday, our beloved and cherished Aunt and dear friend, surrounded by her family, flew away to Heaven to be reunited with her beloved twin sister, Eileen Snyder. Also waiting to greet her at Heaven’s Gate were her farther and mother, Mr. and Mrs. John A, Walker Sr.; dear brothers, John A. Walker Jr. and wife Josephine, Rephelius “Pete” Walker and wife Marjorie, and Lindsey J. Walker; cousins, Wert Jones, Billie Erickson and Jean J. Coltrane; and niece, Martha Jo Johnson.
Left to carry on her memory is Janet Snyder Barnes and husband Dick,Advance, N.C., with whom she lived for the last 4 years. Other loved ones include nieces, Annette Walker and husband Kent Sidel, Hilton Head, S.C., Susan Walker and husband Michael Barden, Englewood, Colo.; nephew, John A. Walker lll and wife Ellen, Walkertown, N.C.; great-niece, Elisha M. Burgess and husband Mark, Winston-Salem, N.C.; great-grandniece, Katelynn Burgess; and great-grandnephew, Stephen Burgess. Beloved cousins include Gail Tilley, Kernersville, N.C., Ivey Tuttle, Walkertown, N.C., Elouise Hall, Walkertown, N.C., Louise Davis, Charlotte, N.C., Ann Baysinger, Walkertown, N.C., Betty Strader, Winston-Salem, N.C. and Beverly Johnson, Jacksonville, Fla. Also carrying on her memory are two very precious and dear friends, Loretta Thomas, Highland Springs, and Leo Ford-Barber and husband Oscar, Deltaville.
Having had many beaus, and at least three marriage proposals, the right one just never came along she said so she never married. Instead she devoted her life to her family and her career. When Maxine was a young girl living in Walkertown, she and her youngest brother “Pete” took a ride with a old ”barnstormer,” flying a WWl tri-motor plane.
The future pilot was born and the rest of her young life was spent planning and dreaming of the time she would soar in the heavens. After high School graduation she took a job at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem to help support her family. She saved every penny leftover she could toward future flying lessons. In 1941 she received her private pilot’s license and even became a commercial flight instructor. One of her flying buddies was Tom Davis, founder of Piedmont Airlines. When Tom started Piedmont, he hired Maxine to handle reservations and fixed base operations. In 1954 she was sent to Richmond to expand the reservation base for Piedmont.
In 1959 she left Piedmont to become an Air Traffic Controller at Byrd International Airport in Richmond. At that time in the United States, there were only a few female, non-military, air traffic controllers.
Over the years she was honored and recognized many times for her outstanding work in air traffic control as well many “flying” awards and achievements in international air races and other aviation events. In 1981 Maxine retired from her controller’s job and moved to the Chesapeake Bay area in Deltaville. In 2002 she was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame in Richmond,.
Throughout her career she was a member of and state officer of “The Ninety Nines,” the women’s international flying organization founded by Amelia Earhart. As recently as 1999, on her 80th birthday, Maxine and her career were the subject of a special feature on WXII TV in Winston-Salem.
Even with all her honors and achievements, “Maxine” Walker remained an humble, kind, gentle, generous, always smiling soul, whose greatest pleasure was doing for others. Now she no longer needs earthly man-made wings to soar the heavens. For surely this gentle soul now has her own set of “wings not made by man.” And as in her childhood dreams, the heavens are now her home where she soars like eagles and where there will always be “a wind beneath her wings.” Soar high, Aunt Maxine!
There will a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 24, at Love’s United Methodist Church in Walkertown, N.C. After the service friends and family are invited to her home at 182 Bridgewater Drive, Advance, NC 27006 (phone 940-4327) for more celebrating of Maxine’s life! Loving donations may be made to the NC Alzheimer’s Association, Winston-Salem Chapter at 1315 Ashelybrooke Lane, Winston-Salem, NC 27103. Online condolences may be sent to http://www.salemfh.com.