"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10. Lillian W. Walker, a long time resident of Baton Rouge, was born on May 8th, 1923 in Meridian, Mississippi. She passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, on December 22, 2016. She was 93 years young. Lillian, also known as "Lily" to many, met the love of her life, Edward E. Walker in Meridian and they married in 1942. They had two children, a son, Edward; and, a daughter, Betti Helen. Throughout her adult life, Lillian used her many God given talents to serve others. Her son "Eddie" suffered a brain injury at birth and because she was keenly aware of the unique needs of developmentally disabled citizens, she focused on their lack of services and set out to change things. In the early 1950's Lillian was instrumental in the formation and development of the Baton Rouge and Louisiana Associations for Retarded Citizens. She was known throughout the nation as "Louisiana's Ambassador of Retarded Citizens." She served on the local, state and national Boards of Directors and as the South Central Regional Vice President of the National Association. Lillian was the first recipient of the LARC Outstanding Legislative Service Award and she was awarded the State President's Cup. Lillian's devotion to the developmentally disabled spanned decades and in addition to serving on the boards, she taught classes, chaperoned dances and parties, drove carpools, raised funds and secured donations including the land for The Hammond State School. As a volunteer and a concerned parent, Lillian was instrumental in the passage of legislation that appropriated state monies for Day Care Centers, Activity Centers and Workshops for the developmentally disabled. This was the first act to give developmentally disabled citizens monies for their production. She received numerous awards that recognized her accomplishments including "Louisianian of the Year" by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters in 1964 for her work in this field. Lillian was extremely proud of the fact that she was a charter member of the Broadmoor Presbyterian Church and Captain of its' first Building Fund in 1957. She served as President of the Broadmoor PTA, a Brownie/Girl Scout leader and on the Audubon Girl Scout Council. She loved her Girl Scouts. Long before Lillian was elected to the Louisiana Legislature, she was helping others through her involvement in community organizations like the United Givers, now United Way, YMCA, American Legion Auxiliary, Baton Rouge Civic Symphony, Business and Professional Women, Thursday Reviewers, and a charter member of Zonta International. So, in 1960, Lillian received the Civitan International Award for her numerous civic accomplishments. Lillian was also an accomplished businesswoman. She and her husband, Ed, purchased The Baton Rouge Agency, an independent insurance agency, in 1956. Ironically, the gentleman that owned the agency at that time would not sell it to a woman; therefore, Ed had to quit his job at Ethyl to purchase the agency. Ed never worked in the agency and the rest is history. In 1964, Lillian was the first woman to be elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives without first succeeding a deceased husband. She represented all of East Baton Rouge Parish. Lillian's slogan was "Elect One Woman." She was a pioneer for women and always advocating for the disabled. In 1968, Lillian authored legislation that created a Women's Division within The Department of Labor. The legislation provided for constructive action in all areas dealing with the employment of Women. She handled important legislation for Louisiana State University and was made an honorary member of the Alumni Association. She handled legislation for East Baton Rouge Parish and was also named "Baton Rouge's First Lady of the Year" by Beta Sigma Phi in 1967 and in 1969, she was presented the "Man of the Quarter" award by the American Association of Mental Deficiency. Lillian was awarded the first Honorary State Membership in Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary organization for women educators, for her work with the Special Education Sub Committees. After years of service, Lillian was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in Winnsboro, LA and the Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business Hall of Fame at Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux. Lillian was a faithful servant who felt that it was truly an honor to serve and help others in all walks of life. Lillian is survived by her son Edward "Eddie" Theodore; and, her daughter, Betti Helen and her husband Malcolm E. "Mac" Buhler. She is also survived by her grandchildren Edward Walker Herlitz and Elizabeth Lillian Herlitz Cortes and her husband Raul A. Cortes, and her step-grandsons, Georg N. Herlitz, Kenneth K. Buhler and Alton E. Buhler. She is also survived by her niece, Nancy Metcalf Laird and her husband Lindsey M. Laird along with three great grandsons that she loved dearly, Edward Vladimir Herlitz, Malcolm Andres Cortes and Thomas Avery Cortes. Lillian was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Edward Everett Walker, and her parents, Rudolph Blanche Walker and Maggie Elizabeth George Walker. Visitation will be at Greenoaks Funeral Home Chapel (9595 Florida Boulevard) from 11 A.M. until religious service at 12 P.M., Wednesday, December 28th, 2016, conducted by the Reverend Hawley Wolfe. Followed by Entombment in Greenoaks Mausoleum. Pallbearers will be Edward Walker Herlitz, Raul A. Cortes, Georg N. Herlitz, Kenneth K. Buhler, Alton E. Buhler and Lindsey M. Laird. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens) Baton Rouge, 8326 Kelwood Avenue, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70806. The family wishes to thank the Hospice of Baton Rouge for their loving care, especially Jill Rehn, our head nurse.
Published in The Advocate from Dec. 26 to Dec. 28, 2016.