Each April, Presbyterian Manor communities across Missouri and Kansas take time to reflect, and celebrate the vision and determination of those who charted the course that led to where each community is today.
At Farmington Presbyterian Manor, doing so means honoring the life of Dr. Fred A. Walker—a man who selflessly dedicated his life’s work to improving the lives of children, working families, college students and seniors.
Known as a man committed to helping others, Fred began his mission to serve during the 1920s. He began by taking on settlement work in Houston and New York. He then moved on to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, where he helped alleviate household unemployment during the Great Depression.
In 1945, Fred came to Farmington to serve as the superintendent of the Presbyterian Home for Children, a position he held for three years before becoming president of his alma mater, the College of the Ozarks, in Clarksville, Ark. However, by 1951, Fred was back at the children’s home in the position he would hold for the next 20 years.
Fred’s second stint in Farmington was incredibly productive, beginning with the formation of a joint project of the Missouri Synods of the Presbyterian Church. He also formed a partnership with Grafton Lothrop, a former Ralston Purina sales executive, who envisioned a grand “home with a heart” for seniors.
By 1960, Fred and Lothrop procured land for a community that had been dubbed Presbyterian Homelife, a complex Lothrop would call “a place of beauty, comfort and security for men and women in the evening time of their lives.”
While the campus officially opened its doors in 1962, Fred’s work had just begun. In 1966, he oversaw the completion of a new nursing wing, and in 1969, he led the development of an additional 28-bedroom hall.
Fred’s foresight and leadership meant that when Presbyterian Manors of Kansas and Presbyterian Homelife (then called Presbyterian Manors of Missouri) merged in 1989, the community he helped create would hold the distinction of being the oldest Presbyterian Manor community in Missouri. Today, Fred’s commitment to help others is continued by the caregivers of Farmington Presbyterian Manor.