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Founders’ Day always will be Tim Walker’s creation, and it will be celebrated in Elizabethtown July 4 for years to come, said newly appointed Mayor Edna Berger on Sunday night to a large throng of onlookers at Freeman Lake Park.
Before darkness descended over the lake, officials paused the festivities to pay one more tribute to the man many believe could have won as many mayoral terms as he wanted to serve.
Events Coordinator Sarah Vaughn said Walker was the sole creator and namer of Founders’ Day, and the one-day patriotic festival is one of many achievements in a rich and accomplished life.
“This is definitely one we can all enjoy,” she told the crowd. Vaughn has said Walker would be remembered during the event because the city wants his family to share in ownership of the festival.
She was joined on the bandstand stage by Berger and Elizabethtown City Councilmen Bill Bennett, Tony Bishop and Marty Fulkerson as they presented a plaque to Walker’s family commemorating Founders’ Day as his festival.
Berger said Walker was respected by all he met and had a deep love and affection for his hometown, which drew applause from the crowd.
Berger said this love crystallized in the work he carried out as mayor and the time he pooled to form Founders’ Day, which serves the dual role of celebrating the country’s independence and the establishment of Elizabethtown as a formal city.
“This was his dream,” Berger said of the celebration, now in its second year. It was rained out July 4 but rescheduled this past weekend.
Berger presented the plaque to Walker’s daughter, Randi Walker Jones, and several of the late mayor’s grandchildren.
“Thanks so much for sharing your dad and granddad with the city of Elizabethtown,” she said.
Jones said the impact felt around the community by Walker’s sudden death from a massive heart attack on June 14 has been monumental. It also has proven comforting for her family, which she said is heartbroken and grieving.
“Many people pass every day that don’t have this much love and support,” she said.
While still struggling with the loss, Jones said she knows her father would want them to pick up, move on and carry his legacy with them.
“And what a legacy we have to carry on,” she said.
Jones said her father’s faith in God and his love and kindness toward others personified the man she knew and loved.
“Dad was not only the leader of our family but a (strong) leader of the community,” she said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org