George Rea Walker, Jr.

A celebration of the life of George Rea Walker, Jr. will be held 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 28 at First Baptist Church, Leland with graveside services following in the Leland-Stoneville Cemetery.  A visitation will be held 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 27 at First Baptist Church.  Services are under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Leland. George Rea Walker, Jr., died at his home in Leland, MS, on December 24, 2011 at the age of 69, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. George Rea was born on February 28, 1942, to Dorothy Ray Walker and the late George Rea Walker of Stoneville, MS. He was an honor graduate of Leland High School and the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville, AR, where he completed a Bachelors of Science degree and received the American Society of Agronomy award for scholarship, leadership and service. George Rea was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and ODK, Alpha Zeta and the Scabbard and Blade honorary societies. In addition to his studies, George Rea was a distinguished athlete, playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks varsity football team from 1960-1964 and receiving recognition as an All Southwest Conference running back. His team played in the 1962 Sugar Bowl and won the 1964 National Championship. After graduating from college, George Rea married his high school sweetheart, Margaret McGee Heard, and the two returned to Leland where they started a family. He began his career by joining the family business, Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, which was founded in 1922 by his grandfather, G.B. Walker. His company responsibilities included cotton production, cotton ginning and acid delinting operations, while additionally running the family plantation growing cotton, soybeans, wheat and corn. George Rea became the President and head of operations of Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Company, a leading producer of cotton seed in the United States.  The company was sold to Calgene, Inc. and George Rea continued his work as Director of International Marketing by traveling to over fifty cotton producing countries and developing Stoneville into an international exporter of cotton seed. As a consultant to Mississippi State University he advised New York based Atwood Richards on matters relating to World Bank programs in Uzbekistan. He was designated as a cotton expert and gave testimony to the World Court in Geneva, Switzerland. As a representative of The Rockefeller Foundation, George Rea taught business courses in Kazakhstan. No matter how far he traveled for work, George Rea maintained an active presence in the Leland community. As a youth, George Rea attained the prestigious accomplishment of Eagle Scout with the God and Country award and due to his adult contributions, was awarded the Silver Beaver by the American Boy Scouts. A life-long member of the Leland First Baptist Church, he served as Deacon, head of the finance committee, and a member of the choir.  A supporter of the arts, he was a member of the local Red Cross Choir and a contributor to the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University. As a member of the Leland Rotary Club, he received the distinguished Paul Harris award. George Rea was elected an Alderman for the City of Leland and served in that role for eight years. For thirteen years, he sat as a Director of the Bank of Leland. As a lover and supporter of education, he served as President of Washington School’s board and many years as a board member for Washington School and Leland Public Schools. George Rea and his wife, Margaret, were instrumental in founding the Washington School Endowment Foundation. George Rea had an abounding love of life, and he lived life to the fullest.  His passion was hunting and he was in his glory when he could take his family and meet friends in the fields of Canada, the brush of Texas, the great outdoors of Argentina or locally at one of his hunting clubs. George Rea taught respect for the outdoors and held court on many of life’s lessons. George Rea enjoyed traveling with his wife and hosting his children and grandchildren for educational ventures across the U.S. and abroad. Above all, George Rea will be remembered as a loving and much loved husband, father, and grandfather. George Rea is survived by his wife of 46 years, Margaret Heard Walker; a daughter, Christine Walker Patterson and husband Dan Patterson of Memphis, TN; two sons, George Rea Walker, III and wife Christie Kirkland Walker of Jackson, and Martin Heard Walker and wife Johanna Swain Walker of Leland; ten grandchildren, Margaret, Mary and Will Patterson of Memphis, TN; Caroline, Ann Elizabeth, Lillie and Sarah Grea Walker of Jackson; John Martin, Emelie and George Walker of Leland; his mother, Dorothy Ray Walker, of Leland; two sisters, Dorothy Walker Meeks and husband Roy Meeks of Leland and Francis Walker Thurmond and husband Ed Thurmond of Lexington; and numerous nieces and nephews. The family expresses its gratitude to a multitude of friends who provided prayers and support to George Rea during his illness, especially the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Leland. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to First Baptist Church of Leland, P.O. Box 286, Leland, MS 38756 and The Endowment of Washington School, 1605 East Reed Road, Greenville, MS 38703.