For many years prominent in the medical profession in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was noted for his achievements both in his private practice and his public work, Dr. Edward F. Walker was one of the leading physicians and surgeons of his city and State. His life was a long one, having extended over man’s allotted three-score years and ten, and his career was useful in the highest degree. Not only was he active in hospital affairs, but he was one of the foremost figures in building up this branch of the medical profession’s activities in Rhode Island. An individual of loyal and untiring courage, he possessed a sound judgment and also many qualities of character that endeared him to a host of his fellowmen, and made his life and his achievements a source of inspiration to others. Unlike many men, he lived to see the hospital which he had helped to found prosper and grow, and was himself active in adding to its usefulness as the years went on. His death took from the city of Providence one of its outstanding citizens, a man whose contribution had been somewhat more than the ordinary, and whose memory will live on, an encouraging and inspiring influence in the years to come.
Dr. Walker was born in New York on February 4, 1846, son of William and Caroline (Steel) Walker. After having received his preliminary education he went, for his professional training, to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York City, from which he was graduated in 1876, with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. He began his active practice of medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1879* an< i f° r thirty years following that time was connected with the Lying-in Hospital of this city. During the last three of those years he was superintendent of this institution. It is generally admitted by members of the medical profession that it was largely as a result of Dr. Walker’s endeavors that this hospital was able to survive some of the most trying days of its history; for he ever manifested a courage and a persistence in his work in connection with this hospital that entitled him to the highest regard of his professional colleagues. Untiring in his labors, he not only accomplished a great deal himself, but also served as a source of inspiration to others, and so helped to place the hospital on a solid foundation as far as its personnel was concerned. During his term of activity in the hospital he saw it and helped it to secure new land for additions to its buildings, and witnessed a remarkable growth in its usefulness. In his own practice Dr. Walker specialized in obstetrics, and at the opening of the new buildings of the Lying-in Hospital, the obstetrics room was dedicated to him in recognition of the work that he had done in connection with this department of the institution.
Along with his activities in his private practice and his hospital work, Dr. Walker was one of the leaders among his fellow professional men, having been active for many years in the promotion of the best interests of several medical societies. He was a member of the Rhode Island State Medical Society and of other similar institutions, and was at all times a keen participant in their activities. He also had social and fraternal affiliations in Providence, having been a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, as well as of the Central Congregational Church. His Masonic connection was with the Manhattan Lodge of New York City; he was likewise a member of the University Club. Into all of these activities as into his own professional affairs, Dr. Walker consistently put forth his finest energies and his fullest measure of devotion, with the result that he was one of the highly esteemed and widely loved citizens of Rhode Island.
Dr. Edward F. Walker married, in 1879, Katherine Boies Bigelow of New York. By this marriage there were the following children:
- Caroline L.
- Edward F., born December 25, 1883, and graduated from the Providence High School; he has been for many years connected with the Rhode Island Textile Association in the capacity of secretary and treasurer, and is today prominent in the affairs of the Free and Accepted Masons; his family attends the Central Congregational Church; he married Josephine Danielson, by whom he had five children:
- Edward F., died in 1917.
- Avis W.
- Katherine B.
- Robert M. S.
The death of Dr. Edward F. Walker, on December 12, 1916, was a cause of widespread sorrow and regret in Providence and wherever he was known. For he had given extensively of his time and energies and talents to the growth and improvement of his city, and had been a leader in the professional world in the day when medicine and surgery most needed the services of gifted men. Kindly and generous in his personal characteristics, he found these traits of character very valuable in his work in the sick room, as well as in his everyday life; and those with whom he was associated and who were his friends found their relationships with him most pleasant as a result of these qualities which he possessed. The memory of such a man must continue to live in the minds and hearts of his fellowmen. Dr. Walker is remembered as one of the very useful citizens of his period and as one who, in the point of both his life and his achievements, deserved the high place that he held in the estimation of others.
Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.