Pat Walker was born in Boise, Idaho, on May 9, 1919. She was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After Pat graduated from high school, she and her mother moved to Coffeyville, Kansas, where she met her future husband, Willard. Pat and Willard lived in several different towns before settling in Springdale to raise their two children, Patricia and Johnny Mike. Pat feels blessed to have shared 61 years of marriage with Willard before he passed away in February, 2003. She has seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren: each one brings her great happiness. Every day is a celebration of life as she enjoys time with friends and family.
In 1986, Willard and Pat created the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. Since that time, their generosity has touched the lives of thousands of Arkansans. Pat still serves as a lifetime board member for the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, is an active member of SpringCreek Fellowship of Springdale, and pursues an active role in the Walker Charitable Foundation. As one of the Razorback’s most loyal fans, Pat enjoys the spirit of the fans and the competition of the games, especially in football, baseball, basketball and gymnastics.
Many awards have been bestowed upon Pat in recognition of her philanthropy, including the 2002 American Heart Association Tiffany Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Razorback Foundation and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Distinguished Service Award. She has been recognized as one of the Most Distinguished Women in Arkansas. Pat and Willard were inducted into the Towers of Old Main in 2001 and are long-time members of the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Society and the UAMS Chancellor’s Society. Pat served as honorary chairperson in 2005 for Komen Ozark Race for the Cure.
Pat Walker has left her mark on many institutions across the state. In 1996, the Pat Walker Theater was dedicated at the Springdale High School. The Pat Walker Health Center was dedicated in November, 2004, at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville campus. In 2007, the University of the Ozark’s dedicated the Pat Walker Teacher Education Program. The Pat Walker Center for Seniors at Washington Regional Medical Center was opened in April, 2008, recognizing Pat as a role model for senior adults. In 2010, Arkansas Children’s Hospital named the Pat Walker Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in honor of Pat’s commitment to healthcare.
Through philanthropy, Pat has provided many people with the opportunity to reach their full potential. Each gift has come with a sincere desire to better others lives. Ozark Guidance, Circle of Life Hospice, The Jones Center for Families, the Fayetteville Public Library, the Springdale Public Library, Crystal Bridges and many other Northwest Arkansas organizations have received the philanthropic support of the Walker Charitable Foundation. As well, many scholarships bearing the Walker name have been set up across the State to enable students to further their education and reach their full potential in life.
Willard and Pat Walker made the decision together to focus on healthcare and education in their state and community. Pat looks forward to continuing this mission for many years to come.