Barney Walker honored as ‘Business Person of the Year’

Tue, 03/11/2008 - 4:23pm
By: Carolyn Cary

Local entrepreneur Barney Walker has been named as the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Person of the Year. This native Fayette Countian has been around for 77 years and started his business in November 1953 with three other investors for a total capital investment of $8,000 and four employees.

Besides himself, those investors included Willie H. Huddleston, “Miss Georgia” Huddleston and Crawford Bailey. His first piece of equipment was what is referred to as a “two-bag mixer.”

Walker Concrete now has nine plants, 250 employees and 55 trucks. He has seen the cost of a cubic yard of concrete go from $12.75 a yard in 1953, to $30 a yard during his 25th year in business to the $90 a yard it is currently.

He has never been content to just oversee the pouring of concrete. He has served on the Fayetteville City Council for eight years, the Fayette County Board of Education for four years, and Fayetteville Planning and Zoning for four years.

He has served as a director of local banks for 28 years. He married the former Sue Hancock, and they are parents of four children, Doug, Rose, Dell, and Jamie. The children still live in Fayette County, and Doug has taken over the job as manager of the firm. There are 12 grandchildren.

They are all members of the First Fayetteville Baptist Church, and Barney can always be found standing right outside the sanctuary entrance shaking hands. Heaven only knows how many thousands of hands he has shaken in his lifetime.

Some of the major projects he has overseen is the Training School in 1954, now the Fayetteville Elementary School; in 1960, the Atlanta International Raceway, pouring the concrete for the grandstands, the press box and the crash wall; and the Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale.

One of those introducing him at the Chamber banquet was lifelong friend, Huie Bray, who said, “The only bad habit he has is fishing, but his bad habit has fed quite a few of you here tonight at our fish fries. Barney has helped many people in this county that no one but that person and God knows what he has done. Due to his influence, his children have carried on this tradition.”

In 1993 Jim Minter, former editor of the Atlanta Journal, wrote, “Barney Walker and I played basketball together at Fayette County High School. While Barney and I weren’t exactly tall and fast, Barney would give it all he had every day in practice for a chance to play five minutes. If I could go back in time and vote for the most likely to succeed, I’d vote for Barney Walker, and I would be right.

“Out here in the semi-city, we talk a lot about traditional values and family values. Sometimes our rhetoric gets mixed up, and it comes out shrill. I suspect what most of us really mean is simply the values that Barney Walker has stuck to all these years. They may be old-fashioned,” Minter added, “but they work.”

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