Wilfred Junius Walker

Wilfred Walker encouraged his students to “seize every opportunity to develop one’s talents and interests in a wide variety of areas.” But Walker also led by example, excelling as a teacher, broadcaster, and choral director. Walker was born in Manning in 1912. He graduated as valedictorian from high school in 1930 and earned his Bachelor of Sciences in Trade Teaching Science at Hampton Institute five years later. While studying at the college, Walker served as president of the Hampton Trade School Singers, who performed in Washington for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, in 1935. For 40 years Walker taught masonry, plastering, English, mathematics, and drafting in the Greenville County School District and he was instrumental in improving industrial trade standards in South Carolina’s schools. His students consistently won recognition for their high quality work, and many of his pupils contributed in the construction of handsome structures, like the Peace Center for Performing Arts. Walker also directed Sterling High Schools’ Male Glee Club for 22 years. For two terms, Walker served as president of the Palmetto State Trade and Industrial Education Association. In 1973, Greenville County Career Center honored him with the Outstanding Teacher of the year Award, and he has received numerous distinguished teaching certificates and civic plaques. Walker gained fame and became known as the “Ole Sportscaster” when he became the radio commentator for the football games of Sterling High School’s Tigers. He became a local celebrity in Greenville with his music show, “Wilfred Walker’s Variety Time.” In addition to hosting his own show, Walker was a popular announcer for WFBC. His on-air publicity stunts, unusual advertising gimmicks and humor attracted both black and white listeners. As a radio personality, he met famous celebrities like Marian Anderson and Louis Armstrong. When station WESC started broadcasting football games from the Sirrine Stadium in the fall of 1948, Walker became the first African-American radio sportscaster in South Carolina. In 1990, the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum Broadcasting Archives recognized Walker as a pioneer in African-American broadcasting. Throughout his lifetime, Walker has used his stature to support charitable organizations, like the Red Cross, Community Chest, and March of Dimes. He was the first African-American to serve on the Budget Committee of the Community Chest. In addition, he participated in numerous social, civic, and church activities and he served on the Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission. The Greenville County Council gave him the Greenville County Citizenship Award. Walker is a member of the Architectural Committee for the Construction of the Multi-Million Dollar “Allen Temple Community Development Family Life Center” in Greenville, as well as a member of its Board of Incorporators. He was also inducted into “The Piedmont Athletic Hall of Fame” in 1998. Other awards, citations and honors for Walker include: “Field of Education Award” in 1993 from the Las Amiga’s, Inc.; “Education, Radio Broadcasting Award” in 1993 from the Tabernacle Baptist Church; “Community Service Citation” in 2004 from the Senate of the State of South Carolina; and the “Award for Excellence, Education, and Radio” in 2005 from the Upstate Gospel Coalition.  In 2007, he has received the “Award for Outstanding Years of Community Service” in 2007 from Link, Inc.; the “Certificate of Congratulations, Education, Public Service, Radio” from the Lt. Governor’s Office, Hon. Lt. Gov. of SC, Andre Bauer; the first “Special Lifetime Award” from the Sunbelt Human resources, Share Upstate, Inc.; and was Commissioned as a “Palmetto Patriot” by Hon. Lt. Gov of SC, Andre Bauer; and laid a Symbolic Brick on the Commemorative Statue For Sterling High School on Main and Washington Streets, Greenville, SC.  Most recently, in August, in Greenville, SC, University Ridge between Church Street and Cleveland Street was named Wilfred J. Walker Street. Also, in December 2008 Mr. Walker received the “Order of the Palmetto” from Governor Mark Sanford, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement and service. As an outstanding teacher, community leader and broadcaster, hundreds of students, citizens and fans have benefited from his personal belief that “it is imperative that basic skills should be developed to support you chosen career. But, it is also important to seize every opportunity to develop your talents and interests in wide variety of areas.”