Walker Allen Fielder loved devoting his time to people — whether ministering to children in Honduras or rallying friends for lake days, relationships were important to him.
Maybe that’s why everyone loved the University of Mississippi student and looked forward to his trademark hugs.
The junior finance major lost his life Oct. 16, 2022, following an accident in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. Blanche Williamson, an Ole Miss sophomore from Raleigh, North Carolina, was also critically injured in the accident but has since fully recovered.
The families of the two students have come together to establish the Walker Allen Fielder Scholarship Endowment. This scholarship, which recognizes demonstrated leadership and strong character, is the families’ way of memorializing the young man who had just turned 21.
Fielder attended Jackson Academy (JA) in Jackson, Mississippi from kindergarten through 12th grade. His beloved alma mater provided him with a close-knit community of friends and supporters. Fielder’s dad, Allen Fielder of Madison, Mississippi, shared his thoughts on the scholarship, which has been designated for graduates of JA.
“JA gave Walker a great education and some of the best friends anyone could ask for,” Allen Fielder said. “The majority of those individuals also found their way to Ole Miss where the friendships grew and multiplied. For Walker, life was about relationships. Both JA and Ole Miss nurtured that spirit and provided him great people with whom to share life.
“I want future scholarship recipients to know Walker’s character. He was a good friend; he was kind, trustworthy, fiercely loyal and appreciative; and he liked to have fun. Walker was a guy with many passions — golf, hunting and fishing — and while those interests would come and go, his passion for being a friend to others never wavered,” the dad said.
“My hope is that this endowment will not be about a sum of money but will be about recognizing a life lived with character. I want to see Jackson Academy underclassmen strive to live in a manner that earns them this recognition, with applicants and recipients living out Walker’s legacy of kindness, spreading it as they go. It is my desire that the scholarship will be both a badge of honor for the recipients and a charge to all.”
Beth and Julian Williamson, Blanche’s parents, called the horrific accident that tragically ended Walker’s life an “unspeakable loss” for his family and friends, as well the entire Ole Miss community.
“Our family wanted to find a way to honor Walker’s life and keep his memory alive,” Beth Williamson said.
“Helping to establish this scholarship seemed like the perfect way to do that while supporting the university Walker loved during his all-too-short life. With a smile and a kind word for everyone he encountered, Walker was the guy you wanted to be around. His parents, Allison and Allen, raised an exceptional son who was truly loved by all who knew him.”
Lizzy Childress of Jackson, a junior at Ole Miss, JA alumna and lifelong friend of Walker said, “Walker was the person who made everyone else feel like they were somebody just after talking to him for a few minutes. I truly don’t think he ever met a stranger. If you ran into him anywhere, you could always expect him to scream your name and then follow it up with one of his famous ‘Fielder hugs.’
“I think the most important things to him were his faith, family and friends. He spent several summers serving the community in Honduras and teaching people there about the life of Jesus. He became very close to the kids in Honduras and would talk about his relationships formed there.”
Childress recalled her conversations with Walker: “He looked up to his mom and dad more than anything in the world and always talked to me about how he wanted to give his kids the kind of childhood he had. His friends were very important to him, and he loved each of them very deeply. He was the glue that kept people together. He always answered a friend’s phone call, and he was always trying to get his friends together for a lake day.
“Walker was simply the best, and I hope the recipients of the scholarship enjoy every moment of their time at Ole Miss and never take anything in life for granted.”
Allison and Allen, who are also the parents of daughter Abby, shared how their son felt about his college home.
“Walker loved everything about Ole Miss and was hooked after his first visit. He loved the independence that college afforded him, but I believe he loved the camaraderie and spirit of Ole Miss the most,” said Allison Fielder.
“It was nearly impossible to get him home and even harder to keep him home once he got there,” said Allen Fielder, who remembered that on their last Christmas together and before they could get dessert served, Walker leaned back in his chair and said, “Well, it’s about time to get back to Oxford.”
Born on Oct. 15, 2001, Walker Fielder was a student in the Ole Miss School of Business Administration and a member of Sigma Chi fraternity where he served as rush chairman. The 2020 JA graduate was a Disciple Group leader at Christ United Methodist Church and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
Fielder said his son thought about his career and family.
“As a junior, Walker was starting to think more seriously about his future and had recently changed his major to finance. When asked about his major and was told that it sounded boring, Walker replied, ‘Yeah, but I’m pretty good at it.’ Just hours before his passing Walker told a friend that one day he ‘just wanted to be able to provide for and love his children like he had been provided for and loved.’”
Blanche Williamson’s dad, Julian, said, “With the increasing cost of higher education, college is out of reach for many or can put an incredible financial burden on families. We hope this scholarship will continue to grow with contributions from others who want to pay tribute to Walker’s life, which in turn, will help many deserving young people attend this wonderful university for years to come.”
Brett Barefoot, executive director of central development, said, “The Fielder and Williamson families were brought together as a result of a tragedy, and they are now making certain Walker’s legacy will be expanded by inspiring other Ole Miss students. We will name the first recipient of the award later this spring.”
The Walker Allen Fielder Scholarship Endowment now stands at $50,000. Individuals and organizations can support it by mailing a check, with the name of the scholarship written in the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS; or online at Walker Allen Fielder Scholarship Endowment.
For more information, contact Barefoot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2711.
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development