Bobby Walker was a special athlete, one you couldn’t keep from noticing if you were a spectator.
From his earliest days in Chelsea Pop Warner football to his multi-sport career at Chelsea High to his nights in the old Chelsea Modified Fast Pitch Softball League, Bobby Walker was a standout and a much-admired teammate – tall, handsome, talented while exuding confidence and charisma on the playing field.
Bobby Walker, who starred at CHS in the mid-1970s, passed away last Friday after a lengthy illness. He was 52.
Bobby’s father, Jimmy, had set the path to the family’s athletic greatness, graduating from Chelsea High in 1957. The late Jimmy Walker was a star quarterback on the Red Devils football team and would later earn induction in to the Chelsea High School Hall of Fame.
CHS director of athletics Frank DePatto played football with Jimmy Walker and later coached his son Bobby on a semi-professional basketball team, Broadway East.
“Bobby played on my semi-pro traveling team with some great basketball players like Rudy Williams and Jay Ash,” recalled DePatto. “He was a great teammate. I have a photo of Bobby in my office. I used to watch Bobby play sports in high school. He was a fantastic athlete and a super person. I loved Bobby. The Walker family is one of the most talented to ever play at Chelsea High School. Jimmy was a dear friend of mine. He was the quarterback and I was a running back.”
Bobby Walker had a huge influence on the majestic basketball career of his younger brother Craig, helping the 6-feet-4-inch guard develop into arguably Chelsea High School’s greatest basketball player in history. Craig displayed some of the big-time skills of his brother and like his older sibling, he played the game with confidence, leading the 1981 CHS team to the Division 2 North sectional finals where they lost a classic to Wayland High School.
He was a very good brother to all of his brothers and sisters, according to a family member.
Bobby also had a successful career in Chelsea softball leagues, excelling for the team sponsored by Saunders Asbestos Service, the firm where he worked for several years. He also played softball for Torro Contractors and was a teammate of relatives Tony Smith and the great pitcher Geno Freeman.
City manager Jay Ash played in the same era as Bobby Walker before the 6-feet-7-inch Ash went on to excel in basketball at Clark University.
“I recall Bobby as a terrific athlete who made everything look so effortless,” said Ash. “Even after he lost a step or two in his older years, he still had the big smile on his face that made him such a great teammate to be around in his younger years.”
“Bobby was simply a great athlete and a terrific person,” said Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson.
Bobby Walker was the son of the late Jimmy and Carol Diane Walker. He is the former husband of Phyllis (Toce) Walker. He leaves a daughter, Candice, two brothers, Craig and Bryan, two sisters Leslie and Toni, and three grandchildren. He also leaves several aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was pre-deceased by a brother, Doyle Walker.
At the request of Bobby Walker to his family, there are no funeral services. The family has announced that there will be a memorial tribute at a later date.