Lewisville’s longtime town clerk Joyce Walker retiring after 25 years of service
Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 9, 2021
By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier
If it hadn’t been for the Hawthorne Curve on I-40 through Winston-Salem and WFMY-TV legend Lee Kinard, it’s likely that Joyce Walker would have never landed in Lewisville and become, as Mayor Mike Horn called her, “the mainstay of Town Hall for about a quarter of a century.”
But Walker, the longtime town clerk, is retiring again after serving for 28 years as a database manager for Bell Atlantic in the Washington, D.C., area. Her last day on the job in Lewisville will be Dec. 30.
The town can be thankful that she and her husband, Clint, who had a brick-laying business, decided to move south from their home in the D.C. suburbs in Maryland after she called it a career with the phone company.
“I told him, you know, it was really nice when we had this big salary coming in to go with yours, but it’s too expensive to live here now,” she said. “Let’s move!”
Why North Carolina?
It wasn’t exactly a calculated decision.
“I opened up a map of the U.S. and closed my eyes and pointed,” Walker said. “And it landed in Durham. We would drive down on weekends to see if we liked the Durham area, but it is too much like Washington. So we started moving west to check out a city.
“We got to Winston, and the Hawthorne Curve reminded me of when I used to go to West Virginia for the phone company in the mountains, and they had a curve that was similar. And I said, ‘I kind of like this.’ So Hawthorne Curve is No. 1.
“We got to our hotel and turned on the news that Saturday morning, and it was WFMY-TV, which was associated with CBS. That’s what I watched back home, and Lee Kinard was on the show. We loved him talking about his travels and all that stuff. Well, let me tell you, that did it. Lee Kinard was the other reason that we are here.”
The Walkers found a house in a subdivision off Stratford Road in Winston-Salem across the street from where Academy Sports now is located.
“There was nothing there,” she said. “I said, ‘this is wonderful.’ We moved in in April 1995 and have been there ever since.”
Of course, finding the right place to live was only part of the equation. Even after retiring from her first job, the phone company put in an order for Walker to come back and help with doing some training, including several months in Puerto Rico, after the move to North Carolina.
When that ended, Walker quickly realized, “I can’t stay home. I’m not a homebody. So I went to temp agency and told them I just wanted a simple job answering the phones and things like that. I had people working under me for more than 20 years. I didn’t want that anymore. They sent me to Lewisville, and I was the receptionist.”
After that three-month contract ended in May 1996, the manager at the time asked Walker if she would consider being the permanent receptionist. “I said, ‘sure.’ By that time, I had met half of the people that lived here and was on a first-name basis with them.”
That’s Joyce Walker. With her background, which includes a lifelong thirst for learning along with her diverse skill set and vivacious personality, Lewisville knew what it was getting. She officially became town clerk in 2000.
“She has been the ‘go-to’ person concerning town laws, codes, presidents and history,” said former mayor Dan Pugh. “Her recall and documentation have been phenomenal.”
During her distinguished years of service, Walker received numerous awards and designations, including N.C. Certified Municipal Clerk, Master Municipal Clerk and a certification from the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators.
And most noteworthy was her Congressional Record recognition when she was named 2018 Clerk of the Year by the N.C. Association of Municipal Clerks.
Not one to boast, Walker admitted “one thing in which I’m really, really proud of is having Virginia Foxx read that in front of Congress.”
• • • • •
Just ask Joyce Walker a question, any question, and you’ll get an answer — most times along with another story.
“I always have stories,” she said. “I’ve got so many stories, it’s ridiculous.”
One was when Walker was a student at D.C. Teachers College — now called the University of the District of Columbia.
“This is a funny story,” she said. “My best friend said, ‘I think I’m going to go get a job with the government but you have to take a civil service test that is four hours.’ I was the only one with a car, and it was summer. So I said, ‘OK, I’ll drive you, and I guess I better go in and take this test, too. I’m not sitting out in this hot car.’ So we did. She failed. I passed.
“The other part of that story is I also went down to the phone company to take their test. They hired me on the spot. So I went to work for them. I’m so glad I did because I had an opportunity with the phone company that I would have never would have had with the government.”
When she was younger, there was an expectation that Walker would be a teacher because “I loved history, I loved English, I loved the whole nine yards,” but that all changed in the first semester of her junior year in college.
That’s when she was watching the news on TV and saw a report of the mother of a child — that had been reprimanded by a teacher — stabbing that teacher in the classroom.
“Come to find out, the child had lied to the parent and, of course, ‘my child does no wrong,’ so I said, ‘I’m finishing this semester, and then I’m going to Cortez Peters Business School.’ I went to college but never finished because that incident told me I don’t need to be a teacher.”
Although she never completed college, Walker never stopped learning, including taking law classes at the business school.
This is nothing new. At age 10 as little girl growing up in D.C., she wanted a typewriter and talked her mother into going to a George Washington birthday sale downtown and getting an Underwood manual typewriter.
“I taught myself to type on it, and when I graduated from elementary school and went to junior high, I was typing some of my stuff.”
Fast forward to years later when the Walkers decided to build a house in the Maryland suburbs.
“I designed it, and I took a test (which, of course, she passed) to be the general contractor so that I could supervise the work.”
By then, she also had already been involved in using computer systems on the job.
She also loves to bake and sew, and lot of other things — like dancing.
“I met my husband in D.C. I loved to dance back in those days, and we used go to cabarets. We met at a cabaret, and we were dancing, and that was that.”
They were married on Dec. 15, 1963. “So, of course, our theme song is the Four Seasons.”
She then started singing … “Late December back in ’63.”
Then there’s bowling. While Joyce has bowled her whole life and had quite a few “200-something” games, son Mark has several 300 games and daughter Page-Erica has a high score of 290.
“She’s made 290, but she’s really mad because she couldn’t get that 300.”
Even Noe’l, one of four grandchildren for the Walkers, has bowled a game of 276.
Family members, along with a big turnout from the local community, town staff, board members and others came out for a reception on Sunday afternoon honoring Walker at the new Mary Alice Warren Community Center.
Even though this isn’t home, in terms of where she physically lives, Walker loves Lewisville and feels right at home in Town Hall and around town.
She has seen the growth, remembering the days of having only two lanes running through town and when Shallowford Square came together before the turn of the century.
“A lot of people don’t realize there are 13,409 people here because all they see is this,” she said pointing to the main area of town. “We have all these homes and subdivisions all over.”
Oh, and then there’s the Great Wagon Road and how she saved the name of the road for the town.
“And I’ve got a story about that,” she said. “When they were getting ready to do the Great Wagon Road, I called downtown (Winston-Salem) to reserve the name, and they said you can’t have it because someone else reserved the name for something they were doing in Pfafftown. I asked who was the guy, and they couldn’t remember the first name but the last name was Armentrout. I asked if they had the phone number, and I called him. I said, ‘Mr. Armentrout, do you have any relatives in the Washington, D.C., area that work for the phone company?’ He said, ‘yes I do. I have a cousin.’ And I said, ‘is it by chance Don?’ It was. Small world.
“I told him I was calling because he was going to use the Great Wagon Road as one of the names in his subdivision and if there was any chance that the Town of Lewisville can have that name because we plan on putting in a road all the way through the town and it is historical and we would really like to see that happen. And he said, ‘sure.’ ”
• • • • •
There are many other stories but only so much space.
But now, it’s time to retire. Again.
“No. 1, I have to clean my basement. That will take a long time. I brought things that were given to us as wedding presents that have never been used. They’re still in boxes. I told you I like to bake, and I like to cater. I have a collection of sewing machines. So I have all this equipment I have to figure out. Usually you bring stuff in and just put it in the basement.
“And at 78, it’s time to go. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my hip. Back in May, I dropped something in the office, and I couldn’t move. And it was so bad that they called an ambulance and had to take me to the hospital. They gave me what they thought was good muscle relaxers, but it did nothing. No kind of medicine worked at all. I was actually at home for five weeks.
“Plus, the town needs somebody else who is younger and may have some fresh ideas, and I think Dora (Moore, who was hired recently as her replacement) is the person. I’m elated they selected her.”
Walker already cleaned out her office over the Thanksgiving holiday and is on the brink of her final council meeting this week while assisting Moore in the transition.
So is a third career around the corner?
“I don’t know because Walmart took away the greeting job,” she said with a laugh. “That was my joke. They took away my job. You know if I went there, I’d be huggin’ folks from here to everywhere.”
What about pulling out another map and seeing what else is out there?
“Oh no, I’m here to stay.”
Just not at Town Hall.
Town Manager Hank Perkins said, “Lewisville has been blessed to have a town clerk with the dedication that Joyce has brought to the position. She has been such an integral part of how the town functions, and her presence will certainly be missed. She brings such a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to every day she has come to work.”
Pugh, who served four terms as a council member and four terms as mayor, said, “Joyce will truly be missed by the citizens of Lewisville and especially by the town staff and the elected officials who have known and worked with her during the past 25-plus years. She has been the one continuum since the incorporation of Lewisville.”
And Horn, the town’s current mayor, added: “Her always cheerful attitude, professionalism in serving as town clerk and in general gaining the trust and admiration of Lewisville residents will be missed.”