Lee Dudley Walker of Martinsville, VA, passed away peacefully on Tuesday January 12, 2021. He was born July 20, 1930 in Martinsville, the son of Virginia Dudley and Samuel Stanhope Walker. Walker graduated as Valedictorian of Martinsville High School in 1947 at the age of 16, while also attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. In 1948, he received a post-graduate certificate from Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia and entered North Carolina State University in the fall of that year. At N.C. State, Walker was inducted into Phi Eta Sigma and Sigma Tau Sigma honor fraternities and was President of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He served in the ROTC becoming Cadet Regimental Adjutant. He received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the U. S. Army upon his graduation with a B.S. Degree in Textile Engineering in 1952.
Walker served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954, assigned to the Armed Services Textile and Apparel Procurement Agency in New York City. There he was in charge of procurement of all of the footwear for all the armed services. He was mustered out in 1954 as a 1st Lieutenant.
Returning to Martinsville in 1954, Walker began working at Walker Knitting Co., which later merged into Bassett-Walker, Inc. He became President and CEO of Bassett-Walker in 1960, and in 1962 was also named Chairman. Bassett-Walker was merged into The VF Corporation in 1984, and he became Chairman, Knitwear for VF. He retired in 1986.
Walker is a former director of Bassett-Walker Inc., SunTrust Bank, VF Corporation, and Hooker Furniture Corporation. His former trusteeships include the Virginia Historical Society, American Battlefield Trust, and Broad Street Christian Church. He was a Founding Trustee of Carlisle School and made philanthropy a priority of his life.
The Martinsville/Henry County Chamber of Commerce bestowed its highest honor on Walker when it presented him with the Heck Ford Award in 1990. In 2002 he received The Pillar Award from the Martinsville/Henry County Economic Development Council for his “Lifetime Contributions to the Martinsville-Henry County Business Community.” He remained an ardent supporter of the community throughout his life.
Outside of his achievements in the classroom, his community, and in business, Walker had a deep passion for history, travel, and his family. His love of history was reflected in his expertise in American military history, his involvement in the Monticello Cabinet, and his memberships in the Society of the Cincinnati and the Sons of the American Revolution.
Walker was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter, Elizabeth Dudley Walker. Walker is survived by his bride of 65 years, Elizabeth Mitchell Walker; son Samuel Stanhope Walker II and his wife Janice Meredith Walker; daughter Virginia Walker Hamlet and her husband Burgess Harrison Hamlet III; daughter Anne Walker Poole and her husband Walker Lynch Poole; grandchildren Andrew Linwood Shelton, Blake Thomas Walker, Harrison Walker Hamlet, Lee Dudley Hamlet, Mitchell Hudson Hamlet, Walker Lynch Poole, Jr., Virginia Buchanan Poole, and Elizabeth Weaver Poole; sister Spotswood Walker Box, as well as nieces and nephews.
A private service will be held at Oakwood Cemetery where Walker will be laid to rest at the foot of his father.
Memorials may be made to Carlisle School at PO Box 5388, Martinsville, VA 24115, or to Broad St. Christian Church at 106 Broad St., Martinsville, VA 24112.