Cover photo for Mary Elizabeth Bright Walker's Obituary
Mary Elizabeth Bright Walker Profile Photo

Mary Elizabeth Bright Walker

May 7, 1932 — December 3, 2023



The long and vibrant life of Mary Bright Walker came to an earthly close on Sunday, December 3, 2023 peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones. Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Jessie P. Walker Jr., parents Alexander and Bessie Smith Bright and siblings Alexander, Jr., Robert Earl, Sr., Dorothy, Egbert (Short Pap), Eleanor and Sadie.

Mary was born Saturday, May 7, 1932 in Brentwood, Tennessee. She was educated in the segregated public schools of Williamson County, graduating in the top 3 students at Franklin Training School. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education Degrees from Tennessee State University with further studies at Vanderbilt Peabody College for Teachers, Fisk University and the University of Northern Colorado.

Mary met a young, handsome music education major named Jessie Palmer Walker, during her time at TSU. The two quickly became inseparable and married in 1960, two years later their son, Clark was born. She and Palmer enjoyed traveling and vacations to Mexico City, Montreal, Nassau Bahamas, Jekyll Island, and Georgia among other destinations.

Mary's professional career began at Kirkland Elementary and Nolensville Elementary Schools in Williamson County. She transferred to the Metro Nashville School System where she served as an elementary teacher at Pearl, Clements, Percy Priest, Berry, Sylvan Park, Woodmont and Julia Green Elementary Schools. Upon her retirement, she was the 4th grade Social Studies and Science teacher at Cole Elementary School, serving a total of 42 years in her chosen profession. She was an accomplished teacher who loved the profession, exposing her students to the best methods of learning and excelling. Her motto was "Let the Sky be your Limit.” She was honored by the National Teacher’s Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Incorporated, along with her two sisters and niece as the Nashville Chapter's Family of Educators.

Always thinking of ways to positively impact the lives of young people, Mary became interested in an organization that would start in Nashville with its focus of service and enhancing the lives of young people. In early 1989, she became one of the charter members of Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated, Nashville Capitol City Chapter. In the Nashville Capitol City Chapter, Mary served in various local, area, and national positions while receiving numerous awards and honors. She was present at the National 2022 Parliamen-Top Conference, where she was awarded the 2022 President's Lifetime Achievement Award by President Joseph R. Biden.

Mary served her community through membership in other numerous service organizations. She was a Silver Star member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Kappa Lambda Omega Chapter, where she maintained 36 years of consecutive membership. Additionally, she was a member of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Incorporated, Alpha Beta Chapter.

Her love for her community and desire to serve others was evident by her membership in organizations that focused on serving others. As a civic community leader, she was an active member of organizations that afforded her the opportunity to do what she loved doing, “Serving and Helping Others.” Those organizations include serving on the Board of Directors of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County, serving as the Chair of Education, Exhibits and Tours. She was a member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and a Charter Member of the Middle TN. Section; Longtime NAACP Member; Charter Member of Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated, Nashville Capitol City Chapter; she was also a member of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, receiving the 60-year Vintage Award. Mary served at the local, regional and national levels at the aforementioned organizations and received honors for her dedicated work in those organizations.

She was very proud of her "visions" that became reality; "The Little Miss AKA Pageant" for the little girls in the Nashville Area sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated and the "Beautillion" for the young men in the Middle Tennessee Area, sponsored by the Top Ladies of Distinction, Incorporated. These events have made a dynamic impact on hundreds of young ladies and gentlemen, as well as raising thousands of dollars for scholarships and resources for community programs and projects.

Mary's home was always a welcoming place to be. She would eagerly offer you a meal which likely included her (world famous) Turnip Greens, lend an ear to listen to your problems and give an encouraging word before you headed out the door. She believed that “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Mary was an avid fan of Tennessee State University, having a long and generous history of financial support for the university. She established the Jessie Palmer Walker, Jr. Scholarship to assist deserving members of the Aristocrat of Bands.

During Mary’s leisure time, she enjoyed playing bridge. She was a member of numerous Bridge Clubs in the Nashville Area.

She attended Greater Pleasant View Baptist Church in Brentwood and was also a member of New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville.

As Mary happily unites with her heavenly family and friends, many loving memories will be cherished by her devoted son, Clark (Tammy) Walker, Franklin, TN; Grandchildren: Jessica Walker, Buford, GA and Jermel Bagwell, Franklin, TN; cousin: William (Buck) Smith, Nashville, TN; Nephews: Alexander Bright III, Brentwood, TN; Robert (Pamela) Bright, Jr., Franklin, TN; Marlon (Cheryl) Bolar, Frisco, TX; Edwin (Priscilla) Bright, Franklin, TN; Devoted Great Nephews: Mark Crowder, Brentwood, TN; David Crowder, Franklin, TN; Nieces: Trevor (Carl) Hobson, Nashville, TN; Rhonda Bright, Nashville, TN; Carolyn Worthy, Franklin, TN; Barbara (Edward) Fleming, Franklin, TN; Carmen Bolar, Bronx, NY; Iris Bolar, Akron, OH and Karen Bright Harrison, Miami, FL; many great nephews and nieces as well as a host of great-great nieces, nephews, cousins, church members, and friends.

Please keep the Walker & Bright families in your thoughts and prayers.

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