Community celebrates the life of Tom Walker

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 4:51 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Hundreds of people gathered in Watertown Monday to celebrate the life and continue the legacy of philanthropist and former mayor Tom Walker.

Some people find comfort in song. Others in prayer. Many in memories.

“Like many of you, I spent quite a few hours in that wonderful family room in the back of Tom Walker’s house. Listening to stories of years gone by as he gazed out those picture windows,” said Dr. Rev. Andrew Long, pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Watertown.

T. Urling “Tom” Walker died last week at the age of 97.

Outside the First Presbyterian Church of Watertown, hundreds of people walked through the doors to pay their respects.

“What he did for this community is going to be felt for generations,” said Mayor Jeff Smith.

Inside were poems, scripture, and stories of things Tom loved like Watertown’s Concert in the Park, an event he spearheaded.

“He said, ‘The truth is some people just don’t have homes on the river, or boats or pools in their backyard, or get to go to concerts. That’s just the way it is. But everybody deserves good music. That’s what we wanted to do here. Provide a fun place for families who may not experience it elsewhere,’” said Long.

Just past the pews sat a framed photo of Tom, an American flag to commemorate his service in World War II, and a working clock collected from his home.

There was also a message from Tom himself.

“So as I watch the clock, I notice that it stopped moving. I’m thinking this is a sign that my father was giving his family, his time on Earth is over, and please carry on with heartfelt praise to all people, and please give in love,” said Laurel Pike, his daughter.

And everything Tom did for his family, loved ones, the city of Watertown, was and is in love.

“Love doesn’t die. People do. So when all that’s left of me is love, give me away,” said Tom Walker Jr., his son.