A memorial service for Janis Walker to take place this Saturday
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford community is mourning the passing of Janis Walker, the executive director and secretary of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce.
Walker passed away on Aug. 9 after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 72.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Community of Love Lutheran Church, 117 N. 4th St, in Oxford.
Sue Cole, the owner of the Candy Case, got to know Walker well through her her previous work with Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. and the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce. She said that Walker was very dedicated and hard-working, and is already missed greatly by those who knew her.
“When I think of Janis, she was the glue that held everything together at the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce,” Cole said. “She was very organized, and she took great pride in her work. If there was a deadline approaching, she would keep everyone in line. We all enjoyed working with her.”
"She was a lovely lady who was very dedicated to the chamber and to Oxford," said Angie Thompson-Lobb, the president of the chamber of commerce's board of directors. "She was very professional."
Walker volunteered with the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce before she became its executive director.
“We were blessed to have her come in as the executive secretary,” explained Douglas Fasick, a longtime chamber of commerce board member. “Everything she did, she took it to heart. She was kind and well-liked, and she was very good at her job.”
Her talents and personality made her a natural fit for the position with the chamber of commerce.
“She was so good at making people feel welcomed,” Cole said. “She had a warm heart and a warm smile that made people feel good. Everybody looked to her for guidance, and we were all confident in her taking the lead.”
Walker enjoyed reading and writing, and she would contribute articles to the Oxfordian publication that showcased businesses and business owners in the community.
Walker retired as the executive assistant to the vice president of academic affairs at Lincoln University in 2010. Before that, she enjoyed a career as an educator, teaching at the Kennett Middle School and elementary schools.
Fasick said that when Walker came to the chamber of commerce, she was probably a little over-qualified for the position, but she was looking for a way to give back to the community. Even though it was a part-time position, Walker would dedicate a considerable amount of time to getting the job done right.
“You could tell that it meant a lot to her, it really did,” Fasick said. “She would work during the day, but there were other events—a golf outing or a business card exchange—and she would go to those in the evening. I'd go to the Movies in the Park and she'd be sitting there.”
When Walker took over as the executive director of the chamber of commerce, at an age when others might be looking to slow down or even retire, she dedicated herself to the work. That won her many admirers, particularly in the Oxford business community. Earlier this year, she was named as a recipient of the Citizen Recognition Awards, which are presented each year to people making a difference in the lives of others in the Oxford community.
Walker was nominated by Maggie Garcia Taylor, the owner of a Nationwide Insurance agency in town.
“Janis is a faithful supporter of the community and the Oxford businesses as the leader of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce,” Taylor wrote in her nomination. “She rose to the challenges and is a believer in a positive attitude. She is an inspiration, and we should all take note to never give up.”
Fasick also credited Walker with helping to increase the number of members in the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce in recent years.
It has been a difficult few months for the chamber of commerce. In July, Jerome Rodio, the president of the chamber board, passed away. Lobb took over that position through the end of the year. It will be difficult to replace good people like Rodio and Walker, chamber officials agreed, and their contributions will be missed.
Walker was the wife of David W. Buckley, with whom she shared 25 years of marriage. In addition to her husband, she is survived by one daughter, three step-children, three grandchildren, and two sisters.
She was preceded in death by a son, Daniel T. Watson.
Cole noted that, even after her passing, Janis is still finding ways to help others. In lieu of sending flowers, the family is requesting that donations in her memory may be made to the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Fund, PO Box 4, Oxford, PA 19363.