Bridge to be named for Collierville trailblazer

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A trailblazing Collierville man who connected classes and races within the town for decades will appropriately have a local bridge named in his honor. 

The Highway 72 overpass above the Norfolk Southern Railway line will soon be named after George T. Walker, the town’s first African-American business owner, alderman and police officer.

The town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution on Monday night to request that the Tennessee General Assembly officially name the strip of roadway, which spans the Southern Railroad and Rowlett Street, the George T. Walker Memorial Bridge. 

The state’s General Assembly has the authority to name bridges in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of of Transportation will install signs after legislation is signed by Gov. Bill Lee. Rep. Kevin Vaughn has agreed to carry the request through the General Assembly process and sponsor the bill in the House. 

Walker and his wife, Adell, were married for 56 years and were fixtures in the community.

He served in leadership roles in church, community organizations and elected office. 

A veteran of World War II, he opened George T. Walker & Sons Grocery in 1967 and was elected alderman in 1991. 

Walker was fatally shot on Dec. 9, 2001 at his store on West Road in Collierville. The motive for the murder remains a mystery as no suspects have been identified. 

He was posthumously named the Collierville Person of the Year in 2002. Ricky, one of Walker’s 10 children, addressed the Board members Monday night. 

“This is an honor to show the craft that George Walker had put forward to the Town of Collierville,” he said. “Thank you on behalf of family and friends.” 

Mayor Stan Joyner said that the honor was “very well deserved.”

James Lewellen, town administrator, stated, “In consideration of a life of service, leadership and achievement, the Town of Collierville respectfully requests Bridge number 79SRO860003 located on Highway 72, near the home of the George T. Walker and Sons Grocery, be given the honorary designation of George T. Walker Bridge.”