Reginald Walker

Reginald Walker (1922-2010) was CarillonDoc, PianoDoc, OrganDoc

WalkerReginald-CarillonDoc

He also was president of the Australian Carillon-Society
see article: http://www.carillon.org.au/history/

For many years, the chimes of the University of Sydney’s carillon echoed across the lawns of the university, sweeping down to Victoria Park, which, towards the end of Reg Walker’s life, as he played the instrument, became more beautiful.

Reg Walker, a physician, heart specialist, pianist, organist, carillon-player, choir leader and a long-term councillor of the university’s Wesley College, represented some of the highest civilising values of Australia’s first university. Coming from a strong Methodist family, Walker had been multitalented from his earliest years and throughout his schooling at Sydney Boys High. At the age of 16, by virtue of his prowess with the piano, he had become an associate of the London College of Music. With his formidable intellect, he combined music, medical practice and ecumenicalism throughout his life in a way that left a lasting impact.

Reginald Lavis Walker was born in Grafton on December 13, 1922, second son of a Methodist minister, Alfred Walker, and Violet (nee Lavis). The young Walker enrolled at the University of Sydney to study medicine and learnt to play the organ and carillon. He sang with the Sydney University Musical Society and was organist and choirmaster at the Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church, Annandale. In 1942, he was appointed the university’s honorary assistant carillonist. Through his association with the master of Wesley College, the Reverend Bertram Wyllie, he established links with the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, southern India.

Walker finished his course in 1943, at the age of 21, the course having been compressed because of the war, and he took up the Busby Music Scholarship for performance on carillon and organ. He set up as a general practitioner in a garage at Herne Bay, which was then very much on the southern outskirts of Sydney. Some of his house calls involved taking a boat trip across the Georges River, sometimes at night. He looked young for his age, so much so that one day a passer-by called over the fence: ”Sonny, is the doctor in?”
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In 1947, Walker married Margaret Garrett, whom he had met through the University of Sydney’s Student Christian Movement (SCM). They had a daughter, Robyn. Sadly, after two years of marriage, Margaret died. In 1951, Walker married another SCM associate, Elizabeth Davison, starting a union that was to last almost 59 years.

In 1952, Walker continued study in Britain and became a member of the Royal College of Physicians. A daughter, Frances, was born. The family returned to Australia and settled in Hurstville. Walker then opened rooms in Macquarie Street, Sydney, and became an honorary physician at Canterbury, Sydney and Rachel Forster hospitals. He was member of the Postgraduate Committee in Medicine at the University of Sydney for six years, a member of the faculty of medicine at the University of NSW for 11 years and clinical teacher for 15 years and a clinical teacher at Canterbury Hospital. Walker was a founding member of the Australian Diabetes Society and a member of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Two more children, Stephen and Helen, were born and in 1958 the family moved to Killara, where son Peter was born. At the Gordon Methodist Church, Walker conducted the youth choir, which became an important part of his life. His repertoire included Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bach cantatas and a Jazz Mass, a mixture that brought flocks of young people to the church. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He also joined the council of Sydney’s Ravenswood School for Girls, where he was to serve for nearly 20 years, and was active in the Methodist and Uniting churches. In 1974, he took 12 months’ leave to work at the medical college and hospital at Vellore, in southern India.

For the first nine years of existence of the Uniting Church – from 1977 until 1986 – Walker was chairman of its National Commission for World Mission. He worked with the General Conference of Christian Churches of Asia, the Christian Medical College and Hospital at Vellore, India, and local congregations in Sydney. John Brown, a former director of the commission, said: ”He was not a minister but he ministered to many people.”

In 1977, Walker resumed playing the university’s carillon in an honorary capacity. He was a founding member of the Carillon Society of Australia and its president for 10 years, giving recitals in Canberra, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Canada and the US. Walker was guest recitalist at the International Carillon Festival in the President Palace in Barcelona in 1994. In 2000, he retired from medical practice. The Wesley College Council, which he had served for 47 years as councillor, trustee and chairman, made him the college’s first fellow. Reg Walker died on October 31. He is survived by Elizabeth, his five children and 15 grandchildren.

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