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H. Kenneth Walker

October 4, 1936 February 23, 2018
H. Kenneth Walker
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Obituary for H. Kenneth Walker

Henry Kenneth (“Ken”) Walker, M.D., of Atlanta, Georgia, passed away Friday, February 23, 2018 after a sudden illness. He was born on a small farm outside Washington, Georgia, on October 4, 1936 to the late Henry Samson Walker and Katie Grace Burgess Walker. A skinny, naïve boy who loved reading, he was recruited to Emory at Oxford in a new curriculum based on the Great Books of the Western World series. After receiving his associate degree there, he transferred to Emory College for his BS degree and Medical School for his M.D. degree in1963). He never left Emory, except for his stint in the US Air Force. Professor of Medicine, Neurology, and Global Health, Dr. Walker was an Emory and Grady Memorial Hospital Legend, whose profound knowledge of medicine, deep compassion, and high standards for performance and professionalism were imprinted in almost 50 classes of Emory medical students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty members. Nearly every trainee who quaked during presentation of a patient to Dr. Walker on medicine rounds at Grady can to this day recite with affection and respect dozens of “Dr. Walker” stories about his wisdom, kindness, wit, apt quotations, and demands for excellence. Dr. Walker personally trained more internal medicine residents than any other physician at Emory, where he directed Emory’s internal medicine residency program, the junior medicine clerkship, and the sophomore clinical methods course since 1971. He considered his life to have been determined by his mentors, the faculty at Emory, and he considered his own calling to be a mentor to the young minds he encountered in his teaching career.

Dr. Walker was a dedicated citizen of Emory University and excelled in service nationally as well. He was, among many duties, President of the Emory University Senate, founding member and second president of the national Clerkship Directors of Internal Medicine, a developer of Grady Hospital’s computerized medical records system, and the chair of many USAID program and grant review committees.

In addition to his parents, his beloved brother, Dr. Burgess Walker, and cousin, Rodger Walker, preceded Dr. Walker in death. He is survived by his niece Virginia Walker and by his “adopted” family Archil (“Achiko”) and Mari Undilashvili and their two children. Ken shared his life with this adopted family, who were his professional partners in his academic and international accomplishments, and for whom he was a beloved “uncle” and “grandfather”. Dr. Walker also regarded a legion of friends and patients from around the world as family and stayed in remarkably close contact.

Dr. Walker was recently awarded Emory University’s highest honor, the Emory Medal, which will be presented posthumously at a ceremony on March 1. He also received dozens of other prestigious awards, including the Georgia Hospital Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and numerous Emory Medical School’s teaching awards through the years.

Dr. Walker’s global health outreach focused on the Republic of Georgia, where he and his collaborators substantially improved the quality of health care. For more than 25 years he and Archil Undilashvili, MD, MPH, MBA, MHA, directed the Atlanta-Tbilisi Healthcare Partnership, a collaboration between educational and health care institutions in the Republic of Georgia and Atlanta. They established the National Information Learning Center; participated in new laws and regulations reforming the healthcare sector; brought many Georgian medical students to Emory for internal medicine training and education in public health; modernized hospitals; started the field of emergency medicine and the modern emergency room; expanded nursing programs and education and planned a nursing school; established the Caucasus School of Business with a focus on hospital administration; and worked with Georgian scientists and physicians in AIDS and tuberculosis research and treatment. Already a recipient of grants to establish emergency medicine as a specialty in Georgia and improve the nursing profession, recently he and collaborators were awarded $4M from the USAID to establish physical therapy and rehabilitation medicine programs in Georgia. They also established a new six-year medical school curriculum at Tbilisi State Medical University. For his extensive service, Dr. Walker was awarded the US AID Outstanding Achievement Citation for Europe and Eurasia and was given honorary citizenship of the Republic of Georgia, both in 2005.

Dr. Walker’s publications include over 60 medical papers and books on physical diagnosis, organizing medical data, evaluating the surgical patient, and the application of computers to medicine. Possibly the most widely used is his Clinical Methods textbook, co-authored with Willis Hurst and Dallas Hall, the basis for examining patients practiced today by thousands of Dr. Walker’s trainees. The love of books and literature was inculcated in him as a boy by his mother, and he was member, chair, and consultant of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine starting in 1991.

The family will host visitation from 3:00 - 7:00 p.m. Sunday, February 25 and again from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Monday, February 26, at A. S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home. The family will receive friends again at 1:00 p.m. with services at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 27, at Fishing Creek Baptist Church, 1779 Sandtown Road Washington, GA 30673, with internment to follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ken Walker Library with the following instructions:

Checks made to: Partners for International Development, Inc.
C/O: Archil Undilashvili
Mailing Address: PO Box 39.
Decatur, Georgia 30031

Wire Instruction: Partners for International Development, Inc.
Wells Fargo NA
Acct# 2000017115012
SWIFT: WFBIUS6S
Bank Address: 725 Houston Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia, 30329

PayPal Instructions: pfid.net@gmail.com

Feel free to leave the family your condolences via the guestbook provided.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Sunday

25

Feb

3:00 PM 2/25/2018 3:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2/25/2018 7:00:00 PM
A.S. Turner & Sons

2773 N. Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

A.S. Turner & Sons
2773 N. Decatur Road Decatur 30033 GA
United States

Visitation

Monday

26

Feb

4:00 PM 2/26/2018 4:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2/26/2018 7:00:00 PM
A.S. Turner & Sons

2773 N. Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

A.S. Turner & Sons
2773 N. Decatur Road Decatur 30033 GA
United States

Visitation

Tuesday

27

Feb

1:00 PM 2/27/2018 1:00:00 PM
Fishing Creek Baptist Church

1779 Sandtown Road
Washington, Georgia 30673

Fishing Creek Baptist Church
1779 Sandtown Road Washington 30673 Georgia
United States

Service

Tuesday

27

Feb

2:00 PM 2/27/2018 2:00:00 PM
Fishing Creek Baptist Church

1779 Sandtown Road
Washington, Georgia 30673

Fishing Creek Baptist Church
1779 Sandtown Road Washington 30673 Georgia
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Fishing Creek Baptist Churchyard Final Resting Place

1779 Sandtown Road
Washington, Georgia 30673

1779 Sandtown Road Washington 30673 Georgia
United States
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