The Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71 in North Augusta was a familiar place to Norman Walker, a retired U.S. Navy master chief petty officer.
And “Norm” was a familiar face to the hundreds of Post 71 members who came to know and love Walker for both his humor and wisdom through the many years that he and his wife, Norma, took part in numerous post gatherings and charitable causes.
That is why the Post 71 home at 333 East Spring Grove Ave., in North Augusta will be just the right place at 2 p.m. Saturday for the post veterans, auxiliary members and area friends to render a last salute to Walker, who died Oct. 13 at age 83.
In lieu of flowers, his family has requested that donations be made in his name to the post.
Death came in a Knoxville, Tenn., hospital from pneumonia. Walker and his wife had moved to that area a year ago to be closer to family members.
The celebration of life service is open to anyone, and that would have made Walker happy. He was a firm supporter of open public records both in civilian and military life.
Readers of The Augusta Chronicle, area publications and television stations will remember Walker from the many photographs and videos taken of him and his wife at Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances usually placing ceremonial wreaths.
To this day, Norma Walker, who will be present for the Saturday celebration, is the only woman to serve as commander of the 200-plus American Legion posts in South Carolina.
The current South Caro-lina Legion Commander Michael Strauss, a North Augusta public safety officer, also is a member of Post 71 and is expected to be at Saturday’s memorial service along with Post Commander John Zentz.
Walker, who retired from the Navy in 1974, held a lifetime membership with the American Legion.
He served as post commander twice of Post 321 in Cooper City, Fla., was elected as state of Florida vice commander and was appointed Florida statewide membership chairman (1992-1993).
Walker served in several leadership roles at Post 71 and also was a district commander. He was very well known at the state Legion gatherings in Greenville, S.C., and Columbia for his humorous military stories, colorful attire and keen knowledge of Legion by-laws.
Additionally he served as Naval Junior ROTC instructor at North Augusta High School. He loved reading, writing, history and horse racing; often recounting the high stakes races his favorite horses lost by a nose.
Walker joined the Navy in 1953 as a hospital corpsman and served during the Korean Conflict and Vietnam Era.
His military career included the Fleet Marine Force, 3rd Marine Division in the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan; sea duty service aboard the USS Yorktown, USS Freemont, USS John F. Kennedy; and stateside duty at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Philadelphia and the Naval and Marine Reserve Centers in Pueblo, Colo., and Stillwater, Okla.