Submitted by
James M. (Mickey) Walker, brother

Kenneth A. Walker, (Kenny), Born August 2, 1944 - Chattanooga, Tennessee, passed away after a short-term illness with Diabetes in January 1999 - Bagdad, Arizona.  Kenny lived at Bonny Oaks School from 1953 to 1959.  He is survived by three sisters, one brother, two daughters, and five grandchildren, all residing in the state of Arizona.


In the Fall of 1953, when Kenny came to Bonny Oaks School, at the tender age of nine, he was assigned to the upstairs dormitory in the old mwalker_kenny_9_1953.jpg (29406 bytes) administration building, under the direct care of Ms. Ross.  During the first few weeks at the school, he and his older brother, Mickey, would spend several hours a day on the swings located behind the laundry building trying to console one another and, at the same time, trying to understand the reason behind their separation from their family.  Also during those times they would watch longingly at the traffic on Bonny Oaks Drive hoping that someone from their family would eventually come for them.

As the days and weeks progressed, Kenny began to settle into his new surroundings and accept institution life.  He made friends easily and began to become less dependent upon his older brother.  Eventually, after many months, he was moved to the downstairs dormitory under the loving care of Ms. Jean Costello and was reunited once again with his older brother.

Through the ensuing years, Kenny played baseball for Mr. Arnold Campbell in grammar school, softball with the big boys whenever they needed an extra, and he also enjoyed football with his friends, skating, swimming, and the Boy Scouts.  His summers were filled with work, play, swimming, summer camps, and church (Tyner Methodist).  During the school years, he was an adequate student although he would rather have been doing almost anything else.

After a period of time, he was assigned to the big boys dormitory and eventually he began to work at the barn, milking cows, taking care of the calves, and in the hayfields during those long hot summers.  Kenny always had a love for animals and even in his early childhood days he always wanted to own a horse or two and to be able to ride on the open range.  He never lost that desire and eventually his dreams were fulfilled.

During Kenny's freshman year at Tyner High School in 1957 - 1958, he began to lose interest in school due to the overwhelming desire to re-establish contact with his family.  mwalker_kenny_13_1957.jpg (45019 bytes)Over a period of several weeks or months, he developed a plan to leave Bonny Oaks and with a friend, Bill Miolen, they ran away one night and went to his grandmother's house in East Chattanooga.  They had walked all night and when she found them on her front porch the next morning, she brought them in, fixed their breakfast, and promptly called Mr. Adamson, all the while they were begging her not too.

Of course, Mr. Adamson came for them right away and took them back to the school.  However, Kenny indicated in later years that during Mr. Adamson's admonishment about their leaving, he also alluded to the fact that the courts had placed him at Bonny Oaks and only by court order could he be released.  Kenny understood this as his way out and he was able to talk his aunt into signing the court order for his release.

Soon after his release, he went for an extended visit with a sister living in South Carolina, then on to a short stay with his mother in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by a short stay with his father in Lakeworth, Florida.  Then on to visit with another sister in Lawton, Oklahoma.  It was during this time that he began working for a roofing company that eventually transferred him to Wichita Falls, Texas.  By now, at the age of 17 or 18, he decided to move to a small community in Arizona with a friend he had been working with in Texas.  In Hillside, Arizona, he went to work for E.J. Dickey Trucking Company.  There he settled down, married an Arizona girl and soon after began helping her raise their two daughters (Debbie and Susie).

For the first time in many years, Kenny was a happy individual, a loving husband and a father who adored his girls.  And for the next 11 years or so he continued to work for the trucking company and to provide well for his family.  During the later years of this time period there was a divorce which caused him a lot of grief so Kenny left this job and went to work for the Bagdad Copper Mine in Bagdad, Arizona.  For the rest of his career he was a heavy equipment operator working with bulldozers and other heavy equipment.

During Kenny's first few years in Arizona, his family, beginning with his brother, mother and youngest sister, moved to Phoenix to re-establish a family relationship once again.  Through the next several years his other three sisters and their families moved to Phoenix as well.  Now the family was together again after all those years apart and they enjoyed many get-togethers that brought great joy and happiness for all.

As stated earlier, Kenny always had a love for animals and throughout all his years in Arizona, he always owned a horse or two.  During his early twenties he became very skillful in calf and steer roping.  Many weekends were spent at various competitions throughout the region, riding and roping with his many friends.  Also, Kenny was involved in community service programs such as volunteering his services as a member of the Sheriff's Posse (searching for lost people in the desert).

In later years in life when Kenny's daughters were both married and had children of their own, he greatly enjoyed the role of grandfather to his four grandchildren.  His younger daughter was pregnant with his fifth grandchild at the time of his death.  He would periodically tell them stories about his life and times at Bonny Oaks School, always embellishing the roles his friends played in the shenanigans.  Through the years and the many discussions we had about the school, Kenny would always emphasize its importance and the contribution it made in his life.

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Kenny's life touched many people and those who knew him remember him as someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand and as someone who loved life and family to its fullest.