Businessman, Philanthropist. The son of former slaves, Walker overcame his humble beginnings to become one of the most successful African American entrepreneurs of the 20th Century. After graduating from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Walker practiced medicine from 1906 to 1919, in Indianola, Mississippi. In 1912, he was elected president of Delta Penny Savings Bank and in 1917, became president of Mississippi Life Insurance Company. In 1920, Dr. Walker moved to Memphis, where he founded the Universal Life Insurance Company three years later. Under his leadership, Universal Life grew to become one of the largest black owned businesses in the United States. In 1926, he founded the Memphis Negro Chamber of Commerce and elected president of the National Negro Insurance Association the same year. In 1939, he was elected president of the National Negro Business League. In 1946, Dr. Walker and his son, A. Maceo Walker, founded Tri-State Bank & Trust Company (later Tri-State Bank of Memphis). At the time of the bank's founding it was extremely difficult for blacks to obtain home mortgages. In its first ten years of existence, Tri-State provided loans to over 2,000 families. In 1952, A. Maceo Walker succeeded his father as president of Universal Life, while Dr. Walker continued to run Tri-State Bank. Dr. Walker was also a founder of the non-denominational Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. On the morning of July 28, 1958, J. W. Hamilton, a former deacon of the church, who allegedly had a dispute with Dr. Walker over a loan, entered his office at Tri-State and fatally shot him in the chest. Dr. Walker's death was widely reported in the media with an estimated 35,000 coming to view his casket as he lay in state. At one time, Jet Magazine listed Dr. Walker as one of "10 most influential Negroes in America."
Bio by: R Wheaton