Joseph R. Walker

Joseph R. WalkerJoseph Raymond Walker, age 56, passed away unexpectedly Dec. 31, 2019, in Ridgecrest.

Joe — or “Joey,” as he was known to many longtime friends — was born Nov. 15, 1963, in Banning to Jim and Leona Walker. From a young age, Joe loved bikes, dirt bikes and motorcycles; drawing and painting; hunting and fishing, and racing.

His dad instilled in him a lifelong love affair with cars, particularly hot rods and muscle cars. He owned many, over the years, his favorites being ’Cudas and Roadrunners. He was a member of the local Dust Devils, regularly competing in drag racing at the old Inyokern track, and later traveling with good friends to race at other tracks out of town.

After working as a drafter on the base, Joe worked for many years as an ASE certified mechanic — at dealerships, Liberty Ambulance and his own shops. In 2008 he became an engineering technician at China Lake.

He worked doing testing, and he and his coworker-turned-dear-friend, Tom Hatch, were quite the pair. They had more fun on the job than most have ever! Four years ago Joe began working for the Applied Manufacturing Technology Division.

He made many close friends there, too, who loved, encouraged and supported him throughout his severe back pain issues, recent heart surgeries and up through his final day of work on New Year’s Eve.

More than anything, Joe’s devotion was to family. In February 1998 his dear friend, Gary Snyder introduced him to Susan (Bethke) and her two-year-old son, Chad. On Aug. 29, 1998, they became a family — marrying in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Joe had a new little buddy who wanted to imitate everything he did; Chad loved donning a plastic tool belt and working on his Little Tikes coupe “just like Daddy Joe.”

On Aug. 27, 1999, they welcomed another baby, Erin, to complete the family. She will forever be Daddy’s little girl.

Joe had warmth, charm, and an instant connection with everyone who was lucky enough to cross his path. His smile lit up the world. He had many friends whom he loved dearly, and who loved him in return. He was a great listener, an amazing storyteller and just as upbeat at home as in public. His stories were rarely brief but always entertaining. He and Susan never ran out of things to talk about.

Joe leaves behind his grandmother, Mabel Lee; mother, Leona Walker; sister, Susan (Steve) Marcellino; wife of 21 years, Susan Walker; son, Chad Bethke (Jewelie); daughter, Erin Walker (Eddie); beloved yellow lab, Jasmine; nephew, Garrett (Colleen) Bruce and their children, Aiden and Morwynn; and nephew, Ryan (Lauryn) Hiser. Joe also leaves behind his “honorary” daughter, Grace Jenkins, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army. He was preceded in death by his loving father, Jimmie Dean Walker.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m., at Crossroads Community Church.

— Submitted by the family of Joe Walker

Story First Published: 2020-01-10