Charlie Walker with his omnipresent guitar.
BY SHARON WOOUMS | Charles Louis Walker emanated a sweetness, gentleness and kindness that made you feel that he liked you, that he would be interested in your complexities — and he would appreciate you! He enjoyed life and people. At Charlie’s memorial on Feb. 23 my sentiments were expressed by many in myriad ways.
He was born July 28, 1949, in the Bronx. His parents owned the Walker Studio, where wedding, school and baby portraits were photographed. Speaking of photos, Charlie’s sentimental connection to all New York was hung on his wall: a poster of Miss Subways of January 1942, Charlie’s mom.
He is survived by his brother, Dr. Edward S. Walker, and his wife, Mary, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They recalled that Charlie had brought much joy to their lives, always kind and patient with their four children, “even with all seven of us crammed in the car on our many outings,” they recalled. “Put in any situation, whatever was going on, he never complained and was happy to go with the flow.” “Volley Box,” one of many games Charlie invented, was often played by nieces, nephews and cousins who adored him.
Not unlike many of our past U.S. presidents, whom Charlie studied intently, he was a lawyer during the week and a weekend farmer at the family farm operated by his cousins Bob and Joanne Thompson. He was a poultry fancier, and grew his own hops to make the home-brewed beer for which he was famous.
For the last 15 years, Charlie, a songwriter and guitarist, was the wandering minstrel at the Garden State Sheep Fair every September. At his memorial, Neil Pellone led us in a rousing rendition of one of Charlie’s songs, “Stop Rockin’ the Bar.” Neil said Charlie had an ability to disarm you and always had a smile on his face.
Charlie’s nephew, Billy Thompson, spoke of his stand-up comedy act and dry sense of humor: “Why are there no restaurants on the moon? No atmosphere!” Billy also talked of Charlie’s love of U.S. history and politics — many of his friends, though, had to find it in themselves to forgive him for being a Republican!
Rocco Pellone, organizer of the Saturday night Carmine St. ballgame where Charlie was one of the best pitchers, spoke of Charlie’s integrity as his lawyer for 10 years.
“With his ability to think outside the box, it was hard to win an argument with him,” Pellone noted, adding, “But he never overcharged and was noted for his pro bono work for those in need.”
Theodore Schroetter based his short story about a lawyer, “A Short Tale or A Long Story,” on Charlie. He explained why Charlie rarely lost a case.
“Charlie was a purist, something about him made you feel he had the law in him,” he said. “His quiet, intelligent demeanor, with his knowledge of the law, his pleasant, relaxed but brave manner and serious way, would convince any judge or jury. On any side of the question, what Charlie proffered had to be true; if not, the whole world would be inside out and upside down, there would be no social order left, no law, no place to stand!”
Graduating from New York Law School in 1978, Charlie was a mentor to his good buddy and fellow lawyer Bob Goldman, who described Charlie as one of the sweetest guys he ever knew.
Gail Lichter and Steve Siegel, friends at New York University, from which Charlie graduated in 1971, remembered the college years; the happy person he was, his brilliance on so many topics, and late-night tie-dyeing.
Cheryl Floyd wrote, “Charlie Walker was an integral part of the social fabric of Greenwich Village, always seen at local restaurants, corner delis, the music scene and baseball fields. He was a kind man, generous in spirit and always available to help others, asking for little or nothing in return. He will be missed.”
It was good to know that Charlie’s neighbors on Bleecker and MacDougal missed him, looked for him and found him in his apartment at 185 MacDougal St. where he had expired peacefully in his sleep on Jan. 30, 2013. It’s a reminder to us all to look out for each other. It takes a Village. Charlie was vintage Greenwich Village.