Frank R Walker, III 76 of Cranston passed away unexpectedly on Thursday February 28, 2019 with his wife Jane by his side.
Born in East Providence on March 9, 1942, he was the son of the late Frank R. Walker, Jr. and Kathryn (Richardson) Walker. He was the beloved husband of Jane L. (Tabor) Walker for 54 years.
Educator and civil rights activist, Mr. Walker devoted his professional career to ensuring that all Rhode Island school children received a fair and equitable education, no matter their social economic and racial background.
Mr. Walker attended Providence College where he earned his B.A. in Education and social studies. He started his graduate work at New York University while working with Harlem street gangs. Mr. Walker escaped a building fire set by rivaling gangs during the Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1964.
Mr. Walker began his teaching career in 1964 as an English teacher at the RI Vocational-Technical School. He was also the Director at the Adult Learning Center in South Providence before joining the RI Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in 1970. Frank earned accolades for his work specializing in monitoring school desegregation and affirmative action.
In 1979 Mr. Walker was granted a leave of absence to go Boston to work for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. As a field investigator, Frank learned more about inner workings of educational systems. The widespread underrepresentation of minorities in all facets of education led him back to RIDE.
In 1987, Mr. Walker’s tireless work led him to being appointed as both the Director of the newly formed division, Equity and Access and The Director of Personnel thus making him the highest ranking Black official in RIDE’s history.
As the head of Equity and Access, Walker was in charge of assisting all local districts in the development and implementation of policies and practices to ensure the equitable treatment of all persons regardless of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientations or physical ability. In 1995, Mr. Walker gained national attention as he spearheaded the State’s legal action against the Pawtucket School Department in a case that exposed Pawtucket’s unlawful “tracking systems” and noncompliance of the State’s desegregation laws in its schools. The case changed how all RI school systems receive their funding based on equity.
As a civic minded person, Mr. Walker remained active after retiring from RIDE. Frank served on the Board of Directors of the Urban League, the Black Heritage Society, The American Federation of Teachers and The Katherine Gibbs College. He was the Chairman of the RI Sickle Cell Committee and The Leonard E. Walker Scholarship Committee. He served on the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities and the National committee on School Desegregation.
He was a youth mentor at the Providence Community Schools, South Providence Tutorial, the Providence Children’s Museum and the East Bay Collaborative.
Mr. Walker has been honored by numerous organizations including The RI Academic Decathlon, National Alliance of Business, RI Commission on Women, AMERICORP, and Brown University.
Mr. Walker proudly served on the Board of Directors at The Rhode Island Credit Union since 1993.
Mr. Walker was an early Commissioner of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission. In this role, he spearheaded the effort to have RI Governor Garrahy proclaim January 15, 1982 as “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” He continued his work until Dr. King’s birthday became a state holiday in 1986 . Frank introduced the MLK Scholarship Committee which provides scholarships to RI high school students. Mr. Walker earned the Commission’s highest award, The Living the Dream Award, two years after his brother Kenneth, in 2012.
Aside from his love for the New York Football Giants and his most beloved “Cubbies”, “Frankie” was an avid outdoorsman.
Mr. Walker was all about his family. Besides his wife, he leaves a son, Mark Walker and his partner, Paula O’Hara of Warwick, Rhode Island; a daughter, Renee M. Walker and her wife, Anne Grimes of Providence, Rhode Island; a sister, Arline L. Walker, East Providence; four sister-in-laws, Gail Walker, Seekonk Ma, Mildred Walker, Norton Ma, Brenda Tabor, Riverside RI, and Paula Tabor, Cranston RI; four grandchildren: Jordan, Hunter, Avery and Cole Walker, 1 great-grandchild: Lana Murphy, many nieces and nephews, friends and extended family. He was the brother of the late Dr. Kenneth R. Walker, Sr., Ronald G. Walker and Leonard E. Walker, Sr. and grandfather of the late Logan James Walker.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday March 7, 2019 from 3:00 pm to 8pm in the PERRY-McSTAY FUNERAL HOME, 2555 Pawtucket Avenue East Providence, RI 02914. Funeral will be held on Friday March 8, 2019 at 11am in St. Martins Episcopal Church, 50 Orchard Ave., Providence, RI. Burial will be in Swan Point Cemetery. Flowers are respectfully omitted. Contributions in the memory of Frank R Walker, III can be made to the Kenneth R. Walker Family Scholarship Fund, Providence College, 1 Cunningham Square, Providence RI 02918