Friday, May 25, 2001

James E. Walker, who
was devoted to education
and the ocean, dies at 73

More obituaries

By Pat Gee

Dr. James Edward Walker, a former Exxon Corp. executive, lived all over the world for most of his career, but "Hawaii was the only place he really called home," says his widow, Margaret Walker.

Walker, 73, died at his Hawaii Kai home Wednesday afternoon because of illness from a brain tumor diagnosed in November, she said.

Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Walker was "passionately interested" in the work of Hawaii Pacific University, of which he was a trustee and executive board member, his widow said. He received a doctorate in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

He was an executive for Exxon in Europe, London, Africa, and Brussels before being appointed president and chief executive officer in Latin America in 1972, then for Asia and Pacific region in 1977, headquartered in Hong Kong.

He retired to Hawaii in 1987. He married Margaret Walker, of Berkshire, England, his second wife, in 1993.

Chatt G. Wright, president of HPU and a personal friend of Walker's, said he was a "fabulous human being, an outstanding person, a very generous community-minded person." Walker was one of the "most loyal and dedicated of trustees" who served on the board's executive committee when HPU merged with Hawaii Loa College in 1992.

"He was a major financial supporter of the university, annually giving large gifts ... He enjoyed so much working with our faculty and hearing about their research projects.

"He once said he enjoyed his trusteeship as much as anything he had ever done in his career. He was such a well-read and articulate man," Wright said.

According to Margaret Walker, the "outgoing and gentle" Walker loved Hawaii's climate, people and music and wanted to help "make it a better place."

He loved to scuba and deep-sea dive, and because of his interest in the ocean and its potential source of food, Walker became a trustee of the Oceanic Institute, she said.

His other community activities included being president and board chairman of the Hawaii Opera Theatre; director and past president of the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council; a member of the Honolulu Committee on Foreign Relations; and a member of the Complex Case Panel of Arbitrators, American Arbitration Association.

Walker was a consultant for multinational corporations involving Indonesia, China, Thailand and Malaysia.

He is survived by his wife, sons James E. Walker, Jr., R. Stephen Walker; daughter Vallierie Gay Cureton (David); brother Joseph Walker of New Orleans and Los Angeles; and sister Mary Hawkins (Charles) of Knoxville, Tennessee. He has four grandchildren.

Services will be held at 6 p.m. June 9 at Holy Nativity Church in Aina Haina. Friends may call at 5 p.m.

Ashes will be scattered in Maunalua Bay. Aloha attire is requested.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hawaii Pacific University or the Hawaii Opera Theatre.

Arrangements are being handled by Borthwick Mortuary.

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