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MUSC friend remembered for support

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Historian, cultural arts enthusiast and long-time MUSC employee, James Walker Coleman III, died suddenly on July 14.
Walker Coleman

Friends, family and colleagues gathered July 17 to attend a celebration of his life held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
Coleman was born Feb. 8, 1942. He was the son of the late Margot Hamilton Coleman and James Walker Coleman Jr. He was a 1960 graduate of Charleston High School and the University of Southern Mississippi and University of Georgia Business School. He was a U.S. Coast Guard reservist and member of the Carolina Yacht Club, Charleston Club, St. Andrew’s Society, Saint Cecelia Society, Society of Colonial Wars, Society of 1812, Society of the Cincinnati and numerous other civic organizations. Recently, he was administrator of the S.C. Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund established by the S.C. General Assembly in 2000.
A dedicated employee, Coleman began his career at MUSC Nov. 1, 1967, where he began working several positions, including director of communications in the Office of Development for the Medical College of South Carolina, now MUSC. Coleman served the institution working under four MUSC presidents and spanning a period of more than 40 years of service. In 1971, Coleman was director of the S.C. Regional Medical Program, an organization established to help unite the country’s health resources by region and developed collaborative work relationships focused on advancing scientific knowledge and clinical practices to patients. In 1976, he worked under the Office of the President as assistant to the president for operations under President William Knisely and later held various office positions. Throughout his career at MUSC, he helped guide the institution through some of its most challenging periods and other significant achievements.
He is survived by his wife, Debby Larkin Coleman of Charleston; father, James Walker Coleman Jr.; two sons, James Walker Coleman IV and Chisolm Larkin Coleman and other family.
Memorials may be made to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 71 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401; Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board; For the Woodland’s Residence, Orangeburg, SC; and the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, Foundation for LSU Health Sciences Center. 

Walker was one of the nicest persons I’ve ever met. He handled so many responsibilities at MUSC, from running the Rumor Mill, to coordinating the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund, to helping with graduation and special events. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of working with him.
—Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., MUSC president

The College of Medicine appreciates all the work that Walker did from helping us answer the Rumor Mill questions to his always cheerful and optimistic approach to virtually every problem we worked on together. As a lifelong friend, I will miss Walker enormously.
—Jerry Reves, M.D., College of Medicine dean and vice president for medical affairs

Walker’s service and dedication to the university spanned many years and his devotion to our institution is known by the countless employees who had the privilege and pleasure of working with him.  I consider myself very fortunate that our lives intersected. His engaging smile, amazingly quick wit and wonderful anecdotes always provided levity to the job at hand. What I treasure most are the moments when he let down his university guard and shared his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the jazz and blues artists of yesteryear. To this day, I still listen to the over 30 tapes and discs he recorded for me. What I respect most was his total selflessness; selflessness handled in his typical quiet and assuming way. If we  learn from his example, it will prove to be one of his many great legacies.
—Jim Fisher, MUSC Vice President for Development

Walker was a close friend, a mentor and community leader. He was  devoted to his church, his family, the university, and to community service. He was a unique individual who worked behind the scenes shunning any recognition. He was a true gentleman and friend and will be truly missed.
—Joe Good, J.D., Office of the General Counsel

Walker and I worked together for 17 years. He was a superb gentleman who was always happy, pleasant and enthusiastic about life no matter how challenging the situation. He was a man of great talent and loyalty especially as it relates to his country, family, fellow man and our institution. It was a tragic loss to the university to learn of Walker’s death and a great personal loss to me because he was a devoted friend to me and my family.
—James B. Edwards, DDS, MUSC president emeritus

I have known Walker for many years, both informally and as a longtime member of the MUSC Cultural Projects Council, of which I am the chair. Walker was a member of the council essentially from its start in 1984. He served on our executive committee and was a trusted and valuable advisor. When I heard of his passing, I was shocked and initially disbelieving. Now, I have a very deep sense of personal loss, as he was not only a colleague, but was someone whose company I greatly enjoyed and with whom I shared a wonderful and enduring friendship. I will miss him tremendously, and our university will not be the same without him.
—K. Jackson Thomas, Ed.D., Professor, Department of Health Professions (Division of Physical Therapy)

One summer my husband, Michael, and I visited New Orleans. Walker gave us a list of music not to miss and places to visit.  He so loved jazz and sharing it with others. We miss him and will remember his kindness.
—Susan Master, Office of Development

Walker was one of the finest people I have ever known and had the opportunity to work with. He was knowledgeable about everything; MUSC, Charleston history, music. I will miss him coming into my office everyday with jokes and stories about his weekends and his family. He truly was an amazing man.
—Cindy Britt, Office of the General Counsel

Walker was a good guy...always upbeat. He was a devoted husband, father, friend, and employee. He was a fountain of MUSC history and information. His loss will be felt by the university for a long time to come.
—Marcia Higaki, Office of Vice President for Academic Affairs

I had the privilege of knowing Walker for two years. We shared office  space while working for the president. There are not enough positive things to say about him … it would fill The Catalyst. ...He was a true Renaissance man for this day and age. He gave me hope when I was down. He gave me strength when I saw what he could accomplish. We made sure the other was OK in times of flu symptoms, the common cold, and exercise. And boy, did he enjoy those Christmas party gag gifts!  He would sit back and laugh watching everyone else have fun. That was his fun.
—Maria Brown, University Counsel’s Office

Friday, July 25, 2008
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