Vincent Walker

By Laura Jane Pittman

Resident Community News

 

If you have anything to do with hunting, or are a gun aficionado, you may already know Vince Walker. He is the “go-to” gun guy at Curry Thomas Hardware, holding court three days a week while he gunsmiths. Well, that’s what he claims to be doing anyway. But wife Jean has another way of putting it.

“The guys come in and sit out in front of the gun counter in the assortment of chairs – there are rocking chairs, plastic ones, little wooden chairs – and they drink coffee and see who can tell the biggest lie,” she smiles.

But seriously, Walker knows just about everything there is to do with guns. And he comes “highly recommended” by many well-known people in town. It’s a hobby and profession that, at his young age of 81, helps “keep the old mind busy.”

Staying busy has never been a problem for Walker, who has always loved hunting and began hanging out at Curry Thomas in the 1980s, helping out former gunsmith Bob Letschner just for fun before settling in to work on guns fulltime.

“I’ve hunted elk for 20 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to go to Africa twice,” said Walker. “But I’ve only been turkey hunting one time. It cured me. I figured I’d go turkey hunting somewhere else – like Winn Dixie.”

Born at St. Vincent’s Hospital in 1931, Walker learned long ago how to turn out a good joke. He attended John Gorrie Junior High School (where he remembers a few teachers, he said, that “he doesn’t ever want to see again”) and graduated from Lee High School in 1949 before attending Bolles Military Academy as a boarding student. Walker graduated with the Honor Naval unit in 1950.

“I lived in Venetia while I was going to Bolles, and I ended up having to stay most Saturdays and walk the bullring to walk off demerits,” recalled Walker, whose older brother had attended Bolles 15 years earlier. “Believe me, I had plenty of company.”

He attended the University of Florida before joining the Coast Guard Reserve, where he stayed for “42 years, six months, three days, no hours and no minutes.” He was married for 21 years to a “nice gal” and raised three children on Emory Circle in Lakewood, where he still lives today. Walker paid $12,500 for his house and had a monthly payment of $39, which included insurance. At the time, San Jose was a two-lane brick street, he recalled.

After he and his first wife “agreed to disagree,” Walker was a bachelor for 21 more years before meeting Jean.

“Vince loves to tell people he picked me up in a filling station,” laughs Jean, who met Walker while getting coffee at a gas station on her way to her first day on the job at Jones Brothers Furniture.

“High-test gas, this one,” adds Walker, with a grin.

The couple dated for about four years before getting married in 1991 at Naval Air Station. Jean moved into the house on Emory Circle, transformed it into a beautiful, inviting home, and the couple have been happily together for 21 years. They stay active, laugh a lot and, despite a few heart issues, feel healthy and blessed.

“I don’t have troubles, I feel fine,” said Jean. “It’s the doctors that have the problems.”

“As one of my jeweler friends says, ‘It’s better to be seen than viewed,’” joked Walker. “I also like the saying, ‘I don’t have an enemy in the world – I’ve outlived all the bastards.’”

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