2023 Grand Marshals: The Walker Family ( Merrill, Oregon)
The Walker Brothers were born & raised in Merrill, Oregon. They have spent their lives as an integral partner of the Klamath Basin community. With modest roots, they grew up in a house across from the Civic Center where the Potato Festival takes place, with their parents, Warren and Glenna, and little sister Tillie. After high school, they fell in love, married, and started families. Bill’s wife Jan (Halousek) and John’s wife Brenda (Jenkins) helped the Walker Boys build their living legacy, Gold Dust & Walker Farms. The Brothers became 3rd generation farmers in 1972 with 100 acres. Over the years the acres increased along with the size of their families. John and Brenda had two children, JW, and Tiffanie. Bill and Jan had 3 children, Tricia, Veronica, and Weston. Their small family farm grew from 100 acres to 15,000 producing chipping potatoes, grain, and alfalfa. The farming life provided ample opportunities for the children to all grow up working on the farm in one way or another. This instilled in them the same strong work ethic their parents had.
The Brothers have remained dedicated to the farming industry and take great pride in being stewards of the land. Both participated in leadership positions in state and national agricultural organizations including the National Potato Council Chip Committee and the California Wheat Commission. Bill & John also believe that every business owner, especially those in agricultural and natural resources industries, must provide opportunities for better conditions in all aspects of life. As individuals and through their business they support many community programs and local organizations. Closest to their hearts are programs that teach our youth about business ag and the community in which they live. They are avid supporters of 4-H/FFA, Toys for Tots, and Make A Wish as well as community events such as the Potato Festival.
Bill & John retired in 2020, leaving Bill’s grown children to run the family business. Anyone who knows a farmer will agree they don’t stop just because they retire. Bill and John remain advisors to the company and continue to mentor the next generation. Bill also serves as the President of the Klamath Drainage District. John, and his partner, Lisa, live near the Running Y Resort with a view that allows him to keep an eye on one of the farms and is frequently called on for advice. Bill and Jan live perched above the company’s headquarters near Malin, and both continue to support the company when advice is needed.
Bill and John are enjoying their retirement and spend their time golfing, fishing, hunting, and driving their classic cars. Most of all they treasure the time with family.