By Andrew Moran, Development Director
On Feb. 2, leadership from across our organization and on behalf of our board gathered at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid Ballroom in Henderson, NV. This night was not just as part of our most recent board meeting festivities, but was also presented in honor of Dr. Eugene Walker for his legacy of service and over 20 years of support and guidance as a founding board member for WestCare Georgia.
Dr. Walker has had so many accomplishments throughout the years that it would take a book to truly list them all. Before his extensive career in education and politics, he was a standout multi-sport college athlete in football, basketball, and track who would later earn multiple hall of fame honors for his time with Clark Atlanta University and holds the distinction of being the first scholar athlete at Clark to finish in four years.
After graduating from Clark in 1958 with his bachelors in social science, he would return to his high school, Drake, to teach and coach basketball from 1958 through 1968. In 1969, he received his master’s in history from Atlanta University. He would later receive his certificate in Southern history from Johns Hopkins University and in 1978, his doctorate in history from Duke University.
In 1984, he was elected State Senator for Georgia’s 43rd District and would serve until 1992. As part, he was also the first African American to hold the position of Majority Whip for the Georgia Senate. In 1988, he served as State Chairman of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign. From 1995 to 1999, Walker served as the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and throughout the years, has served on countless boards including Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles, the DeKalb County Board of Education, and WestCare Georgia’s Board, of which both himself and WestCare Georgia’s Vice President of Operations, Derrick Boazman, had served on since the state’s incorporation into the WestCare family in 2003.
The event opened with remarks from our CEO, Ken Ortbals; an invocation by our Vice President of Human Resources, Rashieda Shabazz; heartfelt words from longtime friend of Dr. Walker, Derrick Boazman; and a presentation of awards by our President, Dick Steinberg and chairman of the WestCare Board of Directors, Jim Wadhams. Before Dr. Walker took the podium to share his thoughts and wisdom, a special slideshow that highlighted just a glimpse of his accomplishments was played in his honor set to Diana Ross and The Temptations’, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Throughout the evening, his loving wife, Pat Walker, was in attendance supporting him and sharing in the beautiful occasion.
The evening’s recognition was not solely for Dr. Walker as fellow WestCare Georgia board member, Doris Michaux, was also recognized for her dedication to our mission. Between her time on Boards for both WestCare Georgia and WestCare California, Doris has now been affiliated with the WestCare family for more than 32 years! Now residing and lending guidance in Georgia, she is retired from the Fresno County Dept. of Social Services in California, where she served as Executive Administrator for all service divisions, inclusive eligibility, social work, and administrative services.
In all, it was truly a beautiful evening and a fitting way to recognize those who have so selflessly given their time to help our operations better serve those within our communities who are in need of the life-changing services that we are so proud to offer! To all who played a part in making this night so special, thank you!