I'd like to take a little time to talk about Charlie Walker.
First, let me assure you that dear old Mr. Walker is alive and quite well. I wanted to say that because it seems the only time I write about a person is after they've fought the good fight here on Earth and gone on to the next. So Mr. Walker is still with us and still telling folks, "I'm just an old boy from Doyline."
I'd like to talk a little about Mr. Walker because he's one of those people that have a special place in my heart. You see, Charlie has been a member of the Webster Parish Police Jury for 20 years, and up until earlier this month, he was its president. For 13 years, on the first Tuesday of the month, Mr. Walker sat at the center of the u-shaped bench on the second floor of the Webster Parish Courthouse. I covered many meetings over which he presided, and I always marveled at his humility. He handled delicate and difficult situations the way a leader should – with tact, insight, wisdom and assurance.
He always treated me with respect. Never did he offer an adversarial relationship with the local newspaper, nor did we ever have one. There were some heated moments in the early days as the jury fought through some well-publicized litigations. There were lots of late nights, lots of weekends when I would sit right outside the jury chambers as they hashed out those legal matters. Through it all, no matter what the jury had been facing behind those doors, Mr. Walker talked to me, told me what he could and didn't try to deceive or obfuscate the issues.
In my estimation, Charlie Walker is one of the most genuine politicians I have ever encountered. And maybe that's because he's only a politician in a sense that he holds public office. Politicking, on the other hand, that's not Charlie Walker. To use a cliché, what you see is what you get with him. His goal is not self-promotion, nor are his words laced with double talk. He only has one face, not two.
If I heard him say he was just one of 12 votes once, I heard him say it a thousand times. He never pushed his will. He never badgered his fellow jurors into doing something he wanted. But that's not to say he sat idly by if he didn't agree. To the contrary, Mr. Walker fought for the things he deemed right. He fought for the residents. He fought for the employees. And more than anything, he fought for the betterment of the place he loves, the place he represents, the little community of Doyline.
While Mr. Walker is no longer the jury president, he remains on the parish governing board. And he remains humble. These were his words to newly elected President Jim Bonsall: "It's not hard to do good when you have good people with you. I tell you, Jim, to just remember the people you have with you. Look to your left [Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan]. Look to your right [jury vice president Vera Davison]. Look over there in the corner [public works director Teddy Holloway]. Remember who you have to rely on."
I am grateful that I had the pleasure of covering many of the police jury meetings over which Charles Walker presided. Like all but one current police juror, he's the only jury president I've ever known. So I tell you all, if you see Mr. Walker, shake his hand and give him thanks. And if you see new Jury President Jim Bonsall, pat him on the back and give him a word of encouragement.
Because he's got some very big shoes to fill.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. He is a two-time recipient of the Best Newspaper Column award given annually by the Louisiana Press Association.