Bill Walker passed peacefully at his home in Scappoose on Aug. 29, 2020 at the age of 75. He endured a 12-year battle with melanoma cancer. Several years ago, he also developed emphysema; but lung cancer, diagnosed in the last few months, proved to be the ultimate foe.
Bill had a natural talent and lifelong love of music. His music career began at age 15 playing in a rock and roll band in Reedsport, Oregon. They would drive up to 70 miles to play in a legion hall or armory for $50. He continued to play throughout high school. The summer he and Gail were married, he wanted to pursue music as a fulltime career for that one summer – which turned into 6 years of playing for major hotel chains throughout the northwest and Alaska. With one of his groups, he recorded a song which he had written. It is available on the internet which has been a delight to his nieces and nephews. After returning to Scappoose, he worked in the Portland and Salem area in large dance clubs. In the mid 70’s, his brother-in-law purchased the St. Helens Golf Course. He and Gail managed the bar. Bill taught her to play the bass and they began a long career playing at fraternal organizations, social clubs, and private parties in Columbia County and throughout the Portland area. Bill’s music became a staple at large family parties and celebrations for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. Everyone had their own favorite song which he performed.
During that time, he worked as a plant electrician for Multnomah Plywood, Linnton Plywood and FlavorLand Foods. In 1990, he opened W.R. Walker Electric Inc. He was justifiably proud of his company. He was especially proud of his son and son-in-law who worked for him and became journeymen electricians. He continued to work as an electrician until April of this year.
Bill was raised in Reedsport, Oregon. In his youth, he worked as a deckhand on several commercial fishing boats out of Winchester Bay. In the 90’s, he got his first boat. He quickly rediscovered his love of ocean fishing and tirelessly pursued fishing for halibut and tuna.
Bill proudly served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine radio operator for four years in Vietnam and West Pac. He loved to tell stories of his exploits in the Navy.
Bill is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gail; daughter Kara (Greg) Orr, granddaughters Molly (Daniel) Pickett, Amanda (Zane) Hafeman; son Will (Nickie) Walker, grandson Liam; and son Greg by a previous marriage. He will be missed by a large extended family and many lifelong friends.
A private family memorial will be held at a later date.