Thomas Jefferson Walker was born on May 5, 1928, in Bamberg, South Carolina. He was the eldest of four children born to the late Eva Utsey Walker and Zodthous Walker: Thomas, Reather, Solly and Geraldine-all now deceased. Thomas departed this life on November 14, 2022, at the Menorah Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in Brooklyn, New York.
At an early age, Thomas migrated with his family to the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. Thomas professed his faith in God and became a member of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, which at that time was located on Powell Street. His parents, Eva and Zodthous Walker, were among the founders of Bethlehem Baptist Church. As a child, Thomas received his Christian training both at home and at Church. He was a member of the Gospel Choir under the Pastorate of Reverend Donnell. Thomas also sang with a gospel group called “The Canaanites,” who were known throughout Brooklyn. In later years he restored his membership at Bethlehem Baptist Church and attended Sunday Worship services regularly until he became ill.
Thomas graduated from the Brooklyn High School of Automotive Trades, where he was a member of the track team. He also played with a local sandlot baseball team called the Black Sox. As a young man, Thomas joined the United States Army and was stationed in Germany during the Post World War II period. During this time, he met and married the former Inez Jamison (now deceased). They had one daughter, Pamela (now deceased).
Thomas began his career with the New York City Transit Authority after he returned from Europe. He became a Motorman and was employed there for thirty-four years.
Later in life, Thomas married the former Willie Mae Duncan and became stepfather to Michael (now deceased) and Michele. Thomas provided his family with love and support. Thomas had a heart of gold and he was always helping others. Thomas was strict but kind. He had a temper when disrespected, but was always very humble, gentle and always loving. Michele and Michael felt very blessed to have someone like him in their lives
After officially retiring from the NYCTA, Thomas was employed as a School Safety Officer with the New York City Board of Education.
Thomas was curious about both his immediate environment and the outside world. He was a member of a travel group who called themselves “The Transit Retirees Select Few.” Although he lived his entire adult life in East New York, he was an avid traveler and visited places such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Spain and the Panama Canal.
Thomas became an advocate for the community garden movement in NYC. He was the de facto “President” of the Pine Street/Dumont Avenue Community Garden, where he spent many years gardening for the community and instructing children and adults on the art of growing vegetables. Along the way he started having fish fries and cookouts in the garden, which attracted community, neighbors and many from far and wide. In 2013 Thomas was one of twelve senior gardeners presented with a Community Service Award by the Brooklyn-Queens Land Trust (BQLT) for his years of dedication to the Pine Street/Dumont Avenue Community Garden. He worked tirelessly to promote the vision of public open spaces for the community; as well as urban farming to make healthy food choices available for East New York.
Thomas was also an avid photographer, fisher and cook. He enjoyed being around people and sharing his stories, time, experiences and talents. Later in life he very much enjoyed hosting friends and relatives at his home, providing all with the delicious food that he prepared with love and care.
Thomas was preceded in death by his parents Eva and Zodthous Walker; his first wife, Inez Walker and their daughter Pamela; his second wife Willie Mae Walker and her son Michael; his brother Solly Walker and both sisters, Reather Gloster and Geraldine Pettis.