On November 10, 1964, God gifted Ramona Jacques and the late Matthew, Jr. with a “darling” son in Newark, New Jersey. On April 24, 2021, God was pleased to give him rest from his labor.
As a child, Matthew was blessed to be constantly surrounded by the love of his parents, maternal grandparents, the late Mr. and Mrs. James Bard and his paternal grandparents, the late Dr. and Mrs. Matthew Walker, Sr. Under their nurture and guidance, his penchant for hunting, fishing, music, the theater, and education was cultivated. They instilled in him the virtues of spirituality, family, and challenging the accepted dogma.
Growing up, he enjoyed spending time with his sister, Nicole, cousins, and friends. He had a particular bond with his maternal aunt, Pamela Bard, uncle, Kevin Bard, and cousins, Marcie Tyson and Ali Ragin. To further create his family ties, Matthew spent countless times with his beloved paternal aunts, the late Dr. Charlotte Walker, the late Maxine (Walker) Giddings, her husband, the late Dr. Brandford Giddings, Sr. his cousins, Brandford, Jr., Randolph, and Candace, and his uncle, the late Daniel Walker.
Matthew was educated in the public elementary and high school systems. At Whites Creek Comprehensive High School, he excelled in all his studies. Under the expert tutelage of Mr. Robert Churchwell, he played in the band and was an outstanding saxophonist. Matthew was an avid swimmer and a dedicated lifeguard at the Northwest YMCA. To round out his social life, he pledged his beloved Sigma Psi Omega high school fraternity. To build his spiritual foundation, he joined Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church. Later, he became a member of Jackson Street Church of Christ with his grandfather, James Bard. Then, he became a member of Schrader Lane Church of Christ, where he participated in many bible bowls, served on the Alpha Ministries, and taught adult and youth Bible classes for many years. He also attended Born Again Church.
Matthew received his B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. While there, he completed a cooperative education practicum in Biomedical Engineering and Space Medicine at NASA.
Matthew was destined to be a renaissance polymath. He studied Medical Physiology and Molecular Biophysics at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, where he received his Ph.D. He worked under the direction of the world-renowned cardio-renal researcher, Dr. L. Gabriel Navar. In 2003, Matthew worked at Merck Research Laboratories as a Senior Research Biologist to develop the drugs, Vytorin, Januvia, and Candesartan. He also spoke internationally on the topic of cardiovascular pharmacology.
Matthew met and married his first wife, Kellye Walker, Esq., and they birthed a son, Matthew Walker, IV. They moved to Boston where he completed his postdoctoral work in the field of Cardiovascular Physiology and Biophysics at the combined Harvard-MIT program.
Matthew was committed to community service and higher education. He served on the Board of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New England Board of Higher Education, New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi (MIT) Honorary, Co-Founder of the Association of UNCF/Merck Medical Research Fellows, Co-Founder of the Association of Underrepresented Minorities, and multiple other scientific societies. He has written multiple publications which focused on molecular imaging, control systems physiology in atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Matthew had an inseparable bond with his son, Matthew, IV. Affectionately known as “Pop”, Matthew continued to instill in him the same virtues and family values, as he had been taught. Daily conversations and frequent visits only enhanced their bond. In summers and on holidays, Matthew IV would spend time with his grandfather and other family members, gleaning from the same heritage of generational wisdom.
In 2010, on a visit from New York to spend Christmas in Nashville, Matthew met Anna at Walgreens. It had been 28 years since they had seen each other as neighborhood friends. He knew immediately that he had connected with the one whom his soul desired. Anna knew she had received a gift from God. At the behest of Mr. Robert Churchwell, Dr. Andre Churchwell, and his close friend, Kimberly Crowder Small, Matthew decided to move to Nashville. He accepted a position at Vanderbilt University one month later and married Anna within six months of their “chance” encounter. What was conceived as a friendship was birthed as a union. They created an enchanted circle of love, which wase “written in the stone.” Anna was instantly blessed with the gift of a bonus son.
At Vanderbilt, Matthew held dual appointments as Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences in the School of Medicine. He also was the Associate Director of the Medical Innovators Development Program. Matthew taught, developed, and implemented an innovative biotech design curriculum across departments and schools. He had a passion to bequeath his pursuit of higher knowledge and spirit excellence to his students. Matthew was working on a book about the interface of technology and personalized medicine, with the intent to publish.
Matthew continued the legacy of his grandfather, the late Dr. Matthew Walker, Sr., who was one of the most prominent African American doctors in the United States and founder of the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in Nashville. Matthew dearly loved his father, the late Matthew Walker, Jr., who was a pivotal leader in the Civil Rights Movement and veteran Freedom Rider.
In his down time, Matthew read avidly, with an extraordinary sense of recall. He loved annual holiday family gatherings and vacations. He regularly spent time with his extended family-brother-in-law, Derek, sisters-in-law, Allyson, Carmen, and Caren, their children, and Anna’s uncle and aunt, Gloria and Cecil Conley. One of Matthew’s favorite pastimes was being surrounded by his mentees and closest and lifelong friends- especially at J. Alexander’s.
His memory will forever be cherished by his beloved wife, Anna Walker; son, Matthew Walker, IV; mother, Ramona Jacques Bard; sister, M. Nicole Walker; sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a host of very dear family, friends, and colleagues.
The Celebration of Life will be live streamed on FACEBOOK at Lewis-Wright FD.