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Charlie Walker (1926 - 2008)

Country Music Hall of Fame

Charles Levi Walker, 33°, is only one of the many Grand Old Opry members who know both country music and Freemasonry.

By William G. Hinton, 33°, P.G.M. and Robert B. Schlenk Jr., 32°,
K.C.C.H. The Grand Lodge of Kentucky

The Grand Ole Opry and the Masonic Fraternity share the devotion and commitment of some mighty good people! Grand Ole Opry notables such as Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Grandpa Jones, Pee Wee King, Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Clark, Charlie Louvin, and Grand Ole Opry band member Joe Edwards-all have committed themselves to the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man by becoming Master Masons. Numbered among such celebrities is Ill. Charlie Walker, 33°, a Grand Ole Opry member who knows both country music and Freemasonry.

Charles Levi Walker, Jr., was born in Copeville, Texas, on November 2, 1926. His early acquaintance with Freemasonry came from his mother, Lillie Mae Walker, whose father was a member of the Fraternity. He grew up on his parent's cotton farm in Nevada, Texas, about 35 miles northeast of Dallas. His father, a Texas lawman and Justice of the Peace, taught his young son the basics of music. When Charlie was a senior in high school, the family moved to Dallas where Bro. Walker finished school.

As a 17-year-old high school senior, Bro. Charlie got his first professional job singing in a Dallas honky-tonk and soon became a vocalist for Bill Boyd's big western swing band, the "Cowboy Ramblers." He was with them for a year until he was called into military service and served two years in the United States Army. He completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and became a member of the 8th Army, 304th Signal Operations Battalion. One year in the military was spent in Japan where he introduced country music to the Japanese people on the Armed Forces Network from Tokyo. When he came out of military service, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, and became one of the nation's top 10 country music disc jockeys. In 1962, he was honored as a "Favorite Son of Texas" by the state legislature.

It was during this time that Charlie petitioned Alamo Lodge No. 44, A.F.&A.M., in San Antonio, Texas, where he was made a Master Mason in 1953. In 1955, he joined the Scottish Rite Valley and Alzafar Shrine Temple of San Antonio. In 1962, he served as Worthy Patron of Alamo Chapter No. 665, Order of the Eastern Star.

His first significant recording was "Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy." This was soon followed by his million-selling record "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down." He has recorded 35 albums and had 47 songs in the national charts.

Some of his other big hits are "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon," "Little Ole Wine Drinker Me," "Truck Driving Man," "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You," "Close All the Honky-Tonks," "Who Will Buy the Wine?" and "A Way To Free Myself." His latest album is on M.C.A.

Brother Walker is at his best in songs that describe the hopes, fears, and problems of everyday people. As an interpreter of country blues, he is incomparable. He performs standard country with a deep intensity, while giving a timeless quality to contemporary tunes.

In 1965 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and on August 17, 1967, was made a member of the Grand Ole Opry. During his career, he has toured every state, plus England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, and Mexico. He is a headliner at Las Vegas, Reno, Jackpot, and other Nevada cities. He has also chalked up numerous credits via TV guest appearances on all the leading country and western syndicates. In 1981, the Federation of International Country Air Personalities (FICAP) inducted Charlie into their Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.

He has been honored as a recipient of the Tennessee Defense Force Commendation Ribbon, retiring from the unit with the rank of Colonel.

Since his move to Nashville, Bro. Walker has affiliated with Hendersonville Lodge No. 359, F.&A.M.; Hendersonville Chapter No. 377, Order of Eastern Star; the Scottish Rite Valley of Nashville, and Al Menah Shrine Temple. Noble Walker is an Ambassador-at-Large to the Shrine Children's Hospital and a member of the Royal Order of Jesters since 1986. He became Worshipful Master of Hendersonville Lodge No. 359 in 1994 and has served twice as Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. He was the second recipient of the Andrew Jackson Medal that is awarded by the Grand Lodge of Tennessee to an individual regarded as the outstanding Mason of the year.

He was invested with the Rank and Decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1987 and was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1995, becoming the fourth country music celebrity and second Grand Ole Opry member to be so honored.

Charlie's hobbies are golf and duck and quail hunting. He shoots golf in the 70s and plays in about 10 pro-celebrity tournaments every year. Some of the tournaments he has played in are the Jackie Gleason Inverarry Classic, The Sahara Invitational in Las Vegas, The Colonial Invitational, The American Cancer Classic, The Southern Open, The Greensboro Open, The Texas Open, The Westchester Classic in New York, and the Atlanta L.P.G.A.

Each weekend, thousands of country music lovers tune in to WSM Clear Channel 650 for the Grand Ole Opry, the longest continuously running radio program in the world. President and General Manager Bob Whittaker has noted, "The Opry is the ultimate. It is synonymous with being at the top of the ladder, and we can't have off weeks. Each week has to be great." Thanks to Ill. Charlie Walker, 33°, and numerous other Masons at the Opry, listeners can be assured that each program will be great!

Information for this article was taken from interviews with Ill. Charlie Walker, 33°, and from the Official Opry Picture-History Book, Jerry Strobel, Editor (Nashville: Gaylord Entertainment Company, 1997).

William G. Hinton, P.G.M., 33° of 310 Masonic Home Drive, Masonic Home, Kentucky 40041-9999 Ill was Grand Master of Kentucky in 1991-1992. He serves as the Registrar/Secretary of the West Kentucky Scottish Rite Bodies. He is the Director of Education for the Grand Lodge's Center for Education and Leadership. Robert B. Schlenk Jr. 32°, K.C.C.H., is an inventor in electronic technologies. He is a member of several Degree teams and the stage crew of the Louisville Scottish Rite Bodies. He is a Past Master of Parkland Lodge No. 638, F.&A.M. in Louisville, Kentucky.