Dr. Kenneth R. Walker Sr.

Date of Passing:

January 30, 2019

Dr. Kenneth R. Walker, Sr., 88, of Patriot Way, Seekonk, Massachusetts passed away peacefully on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at Philip Hulitar Inpatient Center, Providence.

Educator and basketball referee, Dr. Kenneth R. Walker, Sr., devoted his career to serving his home state of Rhode Island. Born in East Providence on December 19, 1930, he was the son of the late Frank R. Walker, Jr. and Lillian (Frye) Walker. He was the beloved husband of Gail B. (Smith) Walker for 63 years.

He dedicated his professional life to improving urban education.

Dr. Walker attended Providence College, where he received a B.A. in 1957. Upon graduating, he began teaching English and Social Studies for the East Providence School District while also serv-ing as a Guidance Counselor. He earned a M.Ed. from Rhode Island College in 1962, where he worked part time from 1967 to 1969 as the Assistant Director of Project Upward Bound, a federally supported program for economically and educationally disadvantaged youth. He was promoted to Assistant Principal at Central Jr. High School before accepting a position as Assistant Professor of Education at Rhode Island College in 1970. He remained on the education faculty at Rhode Island College until 1993, rising to the rank of full Professor in 1989. Dr. Walker also earned a Ph.D. in education from Boston University.

During his tenure at Rhode Island College, he directed the Teacher Corps, a project of the college and the Pawtucket School Department aimed at raising the quality of education for low-income students. He also served as director of urban education at the university.

Dr. Walker also served as the “hands on” Chair and Member of the RI Parole Board for over 35 years having been consistently reappointed by all Rhode Island Governors irrespective of their political affiliation.

Dr. Walker’s commitment to youth and public service goes beyond the classroom. In 1963, Dr. Walker became a basketball referee and officiated Division I games in East Coast, Big East and Atlantic 10 athletic conferences. He served as basketball referee for the Rhode Island Inter-scholastic League and the NCAA, officiating games in the East Coast, Big East and Atlantic 10 conferences. Dr. Walker continued to be a mentor to the Providence College Basketball Teams and often travelled with the team to away games.

Though retired, this East Providence Hall of Famer continued to participate and advocate for his community particularly as it relates to young people, the incarcerated, senior citizens, the physically and mentally challenged as well as issues related to the minority communities and their access to health care.

Dr. Walker was a Past-President of Big Brothers of Rhode Island, a Member of the Board of Trustees of Salve Regina University, and a former Member of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary Academy, Bay View. He has been recognized and honored by many groups, including the Asso-ciation of Paroling Authorities International, where he was awarded the Vincent O’Leary Award for his many contributions to the field of parole and the Ben Bear Award for his efforts to defend the parole supervision process as a necessary link in providing successful transition and re-entry. Dr. Walker received the Neil J. Houston, Junior Award from Justice Assistance for his dedicated service and citizen contribution toward the Criminal Justice Profession and the Public Interest. Dr. Walker also received the NAACP Freedom Fund Award in Education.

Dr. Walker served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War and was a proud Veteran of the Armed Services.

Besides his beloved wife, he leaves two daughters, Michele Walker-Angell and her hus-band David of Providence, Rhode Island; Leanne Walker-Beard and her husband Jeffrey of Seekonk, Massachusetts; a son, Kenneth R. Walker, Jr., of East Providence, Rhode Island; a sister Arline Walker of East Providence, Rhode Island; a brother Frank R. Walker, III and his wife Jane of Cranston, Rhode Island; and six grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Leonard E. Walker and Ronald Walker.

His funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in Faith Christian Center, 95 Sagamore Road, Seekonk, Massachusetts. Flowers are respectfully omitted. Contribu-tions in Dr. Walker’s memory can be made to the Kenneth R. Walker Family Scholarship Fund, Providence College, 1 Cunningham Square,Providence, RI 02918.

Online Condolences


  1. My JV coach at EP is 1964. He talked the team through the JFK assassination as we all sat in the middle of the court and needed his presence and what a presence he was. He was only my coach for one year but was such a significant personality that he has and will remain with my forever.

  2. Gail and family,
    Ken will be greatly missed by our family. He was a good friend and caring neighbor. He always wanted to know how the “kids” were doing; he and my late brother-in-law had long, long conversations when they visited us; he was a constant presence on our street and the go to person when something needed to be fixed. Vineyard Avenue Extension on Martha’s Vineyard will not be the same without him. We share your grief and you have our deepest condolences.

  3. Michele,I’m so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. My mom also sends her condolences. You’re in my thoughts all the time. Love you,tom

  4. Our condolences and prayers to the Walker family. Ken will never be forgotten, he is in our hearts. RIP

    Gail and Carol Davis

  5. Sincere condolences to the family of a wonderful and sincere man. Dr. Walker was a family man and good friend who believed and accomplished many things for his community and sports for young people. We will always remember him stopping by our home in Oak Bluffs on a summer day and talking about Providence and East Providence.
    May he rest eternally and his family enjoy peace knowing that.

    Patricia Carter (late Dr. Gregory Carter); Lance Lawrence, Susan Carter (late Dr. Ulysses “Junie” Carter)

  6. The Bailey Family extend our sincere condolences to he Walker Family for the passing of Uncle Kenneth. Please know our Prayers are with you.

  7. My sincere condolences to Mr. Walker’s family. Mr. Walker always made me smile. He was a kind man.

  8. RIP Ken. You were the quintessential renaissance man with the skin of a rhinoceros and the heart of a dove. My condolences to Kenny’s family and all those touched by his presence and empowered by his wisdom.
    I first met Ken at RIC in the early 70’s and then reunited with him at JWU in the doctoral program. He was on my dissertation committee, and when my father suddenly passed days before my defense, Ken talked me through it and celebrated with my family in my father’s absence. He was also a powerful mentor during my tenure teaching at Men’s Max.
    We kept in touch for the last 15 years and he jokingly referred to me as his “other daughter” because he said I only called him when I needed something.
    My last call to him was in December and for the first time I needed nothing. Just wanted to check in. At first, he didn’t believe me.
    We made plans for lunch after the holidays, but before I could call I saw his picture on facebook. I thought he had won another award. In fact, he did. He was called by God to the kingdom of heaven.
    Selfishly, I am so sad to lose this man who encouraged me to defend my dissertation in spite of my father’s death, go for the Fulbright in South Africa, open my private practice in grief and volunteer for Hospice.
    But there is a little Walker in all of us that he leaves behind. I am thankful and humbled that he chose to share his insights, time and opinions with me.
    In the end he was correct- I feel as if I’ve lost another father.
    Be Well Kenny. We will all miss you.

  9. Prayers and Condolences to the Walker Family. May God wrap his healing arms around you all in this time of grief. Heaven wins another Angel while earth loses and amazing person. God Bless

  10. Sincere condolences.

    Robert Patton and Warren Patton

  11. Exceptional man……on and off the court….my condolences to the Walker family…..May he RIP

    Sheila Brown (Pina)

    (EPHS 69)

  12. Thank God for the life of this great man, dear friend, and brother. He embodied”the fruits of the spirit,” and unselfishly planted and nurtured seeds of goodness. It is certain that his life”s works will bear a bountiful harvest for generations yet unborn. We pray that the Merciful Savior will shower his beautiful family with comfort and peace.
    “Friendship is essential to the soul”
    Elder William Scott and wife Donna Carrington Scott, First Tabernacle Beth El, Providence, RI.

  13. Gail and family: My deepest condolence to all of you on the passing of Ken. I always thought of him as a gentle, kind and caring individual. He will be truly missed by many.

  14. Ken,
    My deepest sympathy to you and your family at this very sad time.
    Carol (Jackson) Martin (EPHS 74)

  15. Gail and family:

    It is difficult to put into words how much Ken meant to so many individuals whose lives he touch. I am one such individual whose life is much better as a result of his mentoring, support and and example of a person who always provided candid, sage, and personal advice! I will miss his insightful perspective, his wit and above all his friendship. May your many fond memories carry you through the days ahead.

  16. Sincerest condolences to the Walker Family, from Stefano and Nunzio, it was always a pleasure to give Mr. Walker his haircuts. Always a gentleman, and ready to share a laugh, he’ll be missed.

  17. Best teacher I ever had. Most respected. Always a gentlemen. Everyone who knew him is better for it. My condolences to his family. Rest In Peace Sir

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