Jesse James Walker, Jr. was born in 1918 in Natitoches, La. There were seven siblings and his dad ran a grocery store at one time. He graduated with a BA from Louisiana State Normal College. He was enrolled at LSU to start a Master’s Degree program in accounting when the war started and he joined the Navy. He served as a Navy pilot and was awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement during World War II. He was on the USS Lexington when it sank in the Pacific.
This brought him to San Diego, Calif., where he met the only love of his life, Harlene Vivien Bonham. They were married in August of 1942. They both studied to be morticians and when they graduated, with the help of Harlene’s father, also a mortician, they purchased a small mortuary in Globe, Ariz.
After almost 60 years of marriage, Harlene died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 81. Jesse passed away peacefully in his home in Globe on July 12, 2012 at the age of 94.
Jesse is survived by three daughters, Ann Pyles living in Poulsbo, Wash., Janet Cunningham living in Anaheim Hills, Calif., and Paula Yue of San Francisco, Calif. He has four granddaughters and five great-grandchildren. Jesse has one living sister, Alice Aldredge living in Texas and several nieces and nephews.
In his younger years, Jesse was an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed the out-of-doors and always had a Weimaraner dog by his side. He raised Rhode Island Red chickens at his home on Sycamore Street and kept horses, cattle and an occasional pig on leased property nearby. He had always wanted to own a ranch and had his eye on the Armer Mountain Ranch on the road to Young, Ariz. When the opportunity arose for him to buy the ranch a second time, he jumped at the chance and called it the “Jack Shoe.” For a time, he ran the mortuary and had the ranch at the same time. Later, he sold the mortuary and enjoyed daily early morning excursions to the ranch. He sold the ranch in 1994.
Jesse also loved to grow fruit trees in his yard – apricots, figs, pears and peaches. He grew quite a few from seed himself and until recently was taking care of his yard and his beloved oleander bushes himself.
Jesse and Harlene loved their “road trips.” They would drive their Cadillac each year to the John Wayne bull sale in Denver, Colo., visit their kids in California and take many trips back to Louisiana and Texas to visit Jesse’s relatives. They made many trips each year to Laughlin. The house in San Diego, once belonging to Harlene’s parents, has become a family home and Jesse spent a lot of time there sitting on the large veranda watching the airplanes land and the Naval operations on Coronado Island.
A visitation will be held at Lamont Mortuary of Globe on Wednesday, July 18 from 1 to 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to Copper Communities Hospice, 136 S. Broad St., Globe, AZ 85501.
Assisting the family; Lamont Mortuary of Globe.