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Tombstone installed at Walker’s gravesite

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Former mayor’s widow speaks about husband’s death

By Marty Finley

Nearly a year after his death, Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker’s grave site has been adorned with a tombstone that his successor called a “fitting tribute.”

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“It is beautiful,” Mayor Edna Berger said Friday afternoon as she stood before Walker’s grave, shaded by a tree at Elizabethtown Memorial Gardens off U.S. 62.

The custom tombstone was placed at the cemetery last week.

Some city officials got a first glimpse of it Friday at the invitation of Walker’s widow, Teresa.

“I’m glad I could be here,” City Attorney D. Dee Shaw said to Teresa. “I loved him so much.”

Walker died June 14 after suffering a massive heart attack.

The granite-and-marble tombstone stands sentry over the site that will serve as the final resting place for both Tim and Teresa, bookended by headstones for Tim’s first wife, Melanie, and Teresa’s first husband, Terry Jones. Tim’s older sister, Pat, is buried beside him.

Tim and Teresa were married 18 years and were the beneficiaries of a blended family. Tim had four children from his first marriage while Teresa had two sons.

But she said there were no internal family divisions and she dislikes the term “stepchildren.”

“They blended really well,” she said.

Teresa was so overcome with grief she could hardly bear to visit the grave for a time. When she did, she was bothered by the lack of a tombstone. Its placement, she said, has served as a relief because she knew people visited the grave.

“It broke my heart that he didn’t have a stone, but it was worth the wait,” she said.

Elizabethtown gave her permission to use the city’s iconic tree emblem on the tombstone, which is adorned with a cross and the words of John 3:16.

Teresa said she wanted the tree on the stone to reflect the years Walker worked for the city as a volunteer, employee and elected official.

“I’m sure no one loved the city more than he did,” she said.

A family plaque on the grave includes the likenesses of Tim and Teresa and their six children — the lifelike images so realistic they brought shocked expressions from Berger, Shaw and Executive Assistant Charlie Bryant.

Below the images is another scripture verse from the book of Matthew that reads, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

“He was the most religious man I’ve ever known,” Teresa said of her husband, who was an active member of First Christian Church and was known for his humble and kind nature. “I mean, he was a true Christian.”

His willingness to give produced a lot of demands on his time as mayor and Teresa said his workaholic tendencies may have contributed to his early death. She believes he still may be here had he learned to stop and relax.

“There (were not) boundaries, that’s for sure,” she said. “We’d get calls at midnight.”

When she asked him to slow down or take a break, he would tell her he felt called by God to give of his time.

At the same time, Teresa learned the severity of Tim’s heart disease after his death, a severe form that earned the nickname “widow maker.”

When asked, Teresa admitted the past year has been a nightmare without Tim by her side and painful for her mother-in-law, Juanita, who has had to bury a son and daughter.

“Terrible,” she said. “I didn’t even get out of the house” until recently.

After the tombstone was installed, she spent much of a day at the cemetery, noting she loves the shade a nearby tree provides. She plans to help her daughter, Randi Walker Jones, with her downtown boutique to stay busy, but also to help nurture Tim’s dream of revitalization Randi has picked up in his absence.

“Her daddy would be so proud,” she said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.