D. James "Jim" Walker, Jr. – Loving husband, father, brother, cousin, uncle, son-in-law, and dear friend.
Jim was born on December 14, 1953 to Agnes (Osbo) and Derwin J. Walker. Jim was the older brother of Robert. Jim grew up in the Birmingham area and graduated from Birmingham Seaholm High School in 1972. Jim attended Michigan State University where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta and President of the Michigan State Scuba Diving Club and received a bachelor's degree in business in 1976. Jim subsequently studied law and received his Juris Doctorate from the Detroit College of Law.
Jim met his wife, Emily Jens, during his freshman year at Michigan State. Jim proposed to Emily on Belle Isle in view of Detroit's new Renaissance Center, and they were married in Grosse Pointe on May 24, 1980. During their 32 years of marriage, Jim and Emily lived in Detroit, Midland, Birmingham and Beverly Hills, Michigan, enjoying summer vacations at the family cottage in Presque Isle. A lifelong resident of the State, Jim was a strong advocate for Michigan and the city of Detroit. Jim was recently filming videos for his industry, structural steel, highlighting content from around the city.
Jim was an amazing friend and partner in life, always there for Emily, Alex, and his many friends and colleagues. His passing leaves an immense void for us all. Jim displayed the wit and cleverness of his father and the warmth and compassion he learned from his mother. He was a loving father and role model for his only child, Alexander James. Jim was committed his family, his faith, and the many people he touched during his life. He supported Alex through calm reassurance and nurtured his son to be confident in himself, his abilities, and his beliefs. A lover of music, film, and literature, Jim passed these passions on to Alex. Jim was a generous host and talented cook. He enjoyed fine wines, foods, cigars and travel. He and Emily traveled extensively in recent years and had many wonderful adventures together. Jim loved sailing and often lamented that he knew how to turn a boat into a house (our first), but had yet discovered how to turn the house back into a boat.
Jim also embraced his role of host father to Annina Daehler of Switzerland and Doro Luderich of Germany, and maintained loving relationships with Annina and Doro that continued to grow through the years. Jim considered "the girls" his "kids" and was thrilled when he and Emily found time to see them both in Paris, France, this past June. Jim, Emily, and Alex were active participants in the American Field Service Exchange Student program since 2002.
Jim was also an active participant in Boy Scouts and accompanied Alex and his troop on many wonderful outings. Dog sledding in Ontario was among his favorites. Besides Jim's involvement in Boy Scout Troop 1001, Jim was an Elder at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, had been on the Board of Camp Skyline in Almont, MI, and most recently completed a six year term on First Foundation. Jim was an active member of the Detroit Athletic Club where, as a Beaver, he enjoyed the weekly rigorous game of basketbrawl. Jim also served on the Board of Governors for the Skyline Club in Southfield, MI. Jim deeply enjoyed the friendships that he made in these various roles.
Jim began his 42 year career in the construction industry during high school where he worked for his family's company, Goss Mechanical. After Law School, Jim and Emily both went to work for Bechtel Power in hopes of traveling the globe but only made it as far as Midland, Michigan. Jim later worked for the Association of Underground Contractors before joining Great Lakes Fabricators & Erectors Association (GLFEA). As CEO of GLFEA, Jim was aided for over 15 years by Marge Grabenhorst, his invaluable office administrator. He remained deeply committed to the success of industry in Michigan through the many roles he fulfilled with numerous organizations. When Jim passed away, he was in Washington, D.C. working on pension reform in one of his roles with The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC). He served on the TAUC Board of Directors, Chaired the LEO Group and was the representative for TAUC on the pension Reform Commission.
Jim is survived by his wife Emily, his son Alex, his brother Bob, his cousins Janice (David) Laws, Linda (Scott) Wilson, Larry Greisheimer, Bruce Walker, Cindy Walker and their children and cousins. Jim's extended family included Emily's parents, Wayne and Dorothy Jens, sisters Kathryn Jens and Martha (Jim) Bale, brother Andrew (Amber) Jens and all of their children. We all loved and cherished Jim and will miss him and his friendship immensely.
Family will receive friends at A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel), 32515 Woodward Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48073 on Saturday, December 15th from 1:00 – 7:00pm.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, December 16th at 2:00pm at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, 1669 West Maple Road, Birmingham, MI 48009.
Memorials may be made in Jim's name to Camp Skyline, 1669 West Maple, Birmingham, MI 48009 or Gleaners Food Bank, 2131 Beaufait Street, Detroit, MI 48207.
Read D. James Walker, Jr.'s Obituary and Guestbook on desmondfuneralhome.com.