An Augusta institution

Solomon Walker was a beloved citizen of uncommon character

What happens when a person of great character, talent and respect works for years for two of a city’s great institutions?

He becomes one himself.

That was Solomon William Walker II, who worked his way up to CEO of the Pilgrim Health and Life Insurance Co. – an institution started in part by his grandfather, Solomon W. Walker, in 1898. Before it was sold in 1989, after Walker had led it for a decade, Pilgrim had been one of the nation’s largest black-owned insurance companies.

He later worked at the Medical College of Georgia in human resources and as affirmative action director.

The thing that keeps coming up about him, though, and what he may be most remembered for, is how he treated people – as a colleague, a friend, a stranger and an agent and advocate for his customers.

He was all of 6 foot 9 inches, but never looked down on the rest of us.

“He was a wonderful man whose warmth and honesty we all should emulate,” an anonymous commenter wrote on The Augusta Chronicle’s website.

“He was a man that didn’t meet a stranger,” his wife, Pat Walker, said.

If you’ve never met a stranger, that means you have a lot of friends. And Solomon Walker certainly did. He was loved and respected in this town, which he continued to serve through volunteer and civic work, including the Paine College Board of Trustees.

Mr. Walker passed away last Saturday at 76, and was bid farewell in services Friday by a grateful community. Of friends.

That’s what you do for an institution.

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