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E'town residents line up to honor Mayor Walker

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By Sarah Bennett

Despite the clear, sunny sky Tuesday afternoon, the mood along Mulberry Street in Elizabethtown was somber as residents lined the sidewalks to pay their final respects to Mayor Tim Walker.

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Residents young and old wrapped around City Hall at the intersection of Dixie Avenue and Mulberry Street. The line of people extended to Strawberry Alley as they watched the string of city, police, fire and private vehicles proceed to the burial site at Elizabethtown Memorial Gardens.

Others were sprinkled along the funeral procession route.

Some who paid their respects bore the city’s logo on their shirts. Some said they knew the mayor their whole lives while others met him just once.

When asked to describe their former mayor, residents used phrases such as “a fine fella,” “very down to earth,” “a caring personality” and “a people’s mayor.”

“Not only did he care about the city, but he cared about the people in the city as well,” said Whitney Flynn, who was raised in Elizabethtown and knew the Walker family growing up.

“He grew up here,” said Jack Smith, who met Walker only once but wanted to pay his respects. “He was one of the people, one of us.”

“You just couldn’t beat the guy,” said Vic Cook, who remembered seeing Walker a week before his death at the Official Kentucky State Champion Old-Time Fiddling Contest. “Like everybody says, he always had a smile. He was Johnny-on-the-spot with everything, wanted everything good for the city. It’s an absolute shame.”

Walker, 54, died Friday morning of a heart attack caused by a heart disease, according to Hardin County Chief Deputy Coroner Kenneth Spangenberger.

Cook, who has lived in Elizabethtown since 1994, said he first learned of the mayor’s death from his wife, who works at City Hall.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was in total shock.”

Cook described the establishment of the Elizabethtown Sports Park as a stand-out moment in Walker’s mayoral term.

“I don’t know how it would come about, but I think the city council needs to present the sports park to the city as Mayor Tim Walker Sports Park,” he said.

Joyce Bennett, a 30-year resident of Elizabethtown who lived in the same neighborhood as Walker, said she appreciated the mayor’s efforts to bring some history back to the downtown area.

“I think he was well on a path to revitalizing downtown,” she said.

Jack Smith and his wife, Kathleen, echoed Bennett’s thoughts about Walker’s efforts downtown.

“He wanted to see the city grow,” Kathleen Smith said. “He wanted to see the city full of people, with the sports park, the revitalization of downtown.”

The Smiths have lived in Elizabethtown for more than 30 years and she said the couple still was in shock about the mayor’s death.

“(I) never, never heard a bad word about him,” Kathleen Smith said. “Never.”

Standing in front of City Hall, Flynn and Ashley Baker remembered Walker — a man they knew most of their lives — as someone who always would greet you with a smile and friendly conversation.

“He was just very down to earth and very much about his family,” Baker said, “which is what made him a good mayor.”

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750

or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.