Learn about this year’s Founder’s Day and our goal to earn our boots. Stephen Haag, a member of the Walker Team, asks those who knew and worked closely with Max Walker to share what made Max a man’s man, a God-fearing man, and a good man.
Margaret and Max Walker.
Any man can rise early in the morning and pull on his cowboy boots, take his hat off the hook, and head out the door, but that does not make him a cowboy. This is a title that is earned not given. The cowboy is the embodiment of manhood. He rises early, works hard tending God’s creation, gives more than he takes, and does not complain. He is tough, weathered, and worn, but gentle, loving, and wise. He honors God Almighty and is humbled to steward what he has been given. A cowboy leaves a legacy; he fulfills God’s call to steward the earth.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Max Walker but I know: he earned the boots. Every story I have heard and the legacy he left confirms that he was a man's man, a God-fearing man, and a good man. If you have not heard Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer” speech, I would encourage you to listen to it. In an effort to better understand Max Walker, I turned to a few of those who knew and worked closely with him: Bob Walker, Dean Walker, and Ken Weaver.
Margaret, Max, Dean and Bob Walker.
Max was a maker, a designer, a fabricator. There were not too many cows or horses around for most of the time he spent building the business into what it is today. What is the story behind the hat and boots and why did he continue to wear them even after he stopped farming and ranching?
“Dad identified with the farmer/rancher way of life and cowboy culture even as he moved into being a businessman and manufacturer. To him, his cowboy boots and Stetson hat identified who he was and where he came from. He grew up and was a farmer/rancher for the first 37 years of his life and he was proud to live the farmer/rancher way.” - Bob Walker
When you think about Max and his iconic hat and boots, what stories do you think of?
“He was very fond of both and they were part of his identity. I heard of people driving by and seeing my dad mowing, and it was easy to tell who was on the mower, because of the hat. It didn’t matter where or what, he always wore both. He never wore any other style of hat, and never wore any other type of boot or shoe.” - Dean Walker
“One of the funniest and most visually memorable things I recall is when some cattle got out from the pasture to the south and wandered along the west edge of the property heading straight for Harmony Road. People got concerned due to the traffic on Harmony Road and the fact that there were no fences to keep them back. Well, Max knew just what to do. Wearing his white cowboy hat, he jumped on a Walker Mower and headed them off at the pass. As he herded them back toward their pasture, a cow or two tried to get around him. Well, a Walker Mower handles much like a cutting horse, so he would face them, outmaneuver and turn them. Max Walker to the rescue.” - Ken Weaver
Is there a story about Max that embodies the character associated with the cowboy?
“I think of cowboys as being independent, strong, hard working, resilient, and steadfast. My dad was all of those and more.” - Dean Walker
“Cowboys are straight shooters. In all my years of growing up and working with my dad, I never heard him tell a lie, and I never saw him cheat anyone in his dealings with other people.” - Bob Walker
Max Walker on horseback.
Every good cowboy has wisdom. What is some wisdom you learned from Max?
“Max exuded wit and wisdom, but not in any "fancy" sense. He was down-to-earth with what used to be called "horsesense". His wisdom was based on biblical truths, so he was honest and straightforward in his dealings.” - Ken Weaver
“It’s hard to talk about wisdom in specific terms, but there’s no doubt that my dad was a very wise person. Most of the decisions were well thought out. He was able to achieve life balance, even in some very difficult times. His commitment to the Lord, his family and the church was unwavering. He was a man of prayer and reading Scripture, and I’m sure much of that time was seeking the wisdom of the Lord.” - Dean Walker
“Dad had wisdom that came from the Bible, and he applied the wisdom of the Bible to the events and circumstances of his life. It seemed to me that Dad had a Bible verse he would quote for every event or occasion.” - Bob Walker
Every cowboy also has a healthy sense of humor. Tell us a joke Max used to tell.
“You know how those Texans are, also trying to outdo each other, everything’s always bigger, etc. Well, two Texas ranchers were talking. The first said, “My ranch is so big that I can get in my truck and drive all day and not even reach the other side.” The second replied, “Yep, I used to have a truck like that too.” - Ken Weaver
“One joke my dad used to tell about the sales representative who was given California as a new area for him to cover. He called up one of the accounts in California that he planned to visit and announced, “I am planning to come to San Jo-sey to see you.” The man on the other end replies, “In California that is a Spanish word and here in California it is pronounced with an H, San Ho-sey.” “In that case,” said the sales representative, “I will come and see you in Hune or Huly”” - Bob Walker
God teaches us in Genesis 2:18-24, it is not good for man to be alone, so he made woman out of man. Margaret spent a lifetime faithfully by Max’s side, through many trials and failures. Tell us about her or a story about how she was a faithful and godly woman.
“She was that, a faithful and godly woman. They were such a team, so committed to each other in every aspect of life. And they were in agreement most of the time. In the rare event that they weren’t, mom would still support my dad, and they would move ahead together.” - Dean Walker
“The Lord was undoubtedly Max’s first love; second place absolutely belonged to Margaret. Their life-long love was clearly demonstrated for all of us to witness and learn from. They truly honored their vows until “death did they part.” I'll share one enduring visual memory of Max and Margaret. This followed a difficult day in which we buried a dedicated Walker employee, Roy VanBeber (Rich's father). He died unexpectedly of heart failure and was buried in Loveland. After the funeral, I went to my car to drive home. As I got ready to leave, I looked out and saw Max and Margaret walking slowly down the sidewalk hand-in-hand. They walked away from that event as they had handled so many other challenges…together. They were a team, joined at the heart by unwavering commitment to Christ and each other. I watched as they made their way to their car and headed off. What an example!” - Ken Weaver
“I admired her faith in God. She was a Christ-follower, both in word and action. She believed the Bible as God’s word to us and taught me to believe as well. She shared the dream of starting the manufacturing company and encouraged Dad to pursue this dream. Dad told me a story from an earlier time – he needed to buy a small engine for one of his projects, and even though it meant sacrifice for Mom (they really did not have the money), she encouraged Dad to get the engine and complete the project. Mom was a risk-taker every bit as much as Dad. Mom was persistent and did not give up when things got hard. Even when the company went bankrupt in 1970, I never heard Mom talk about giving up.” - Bob Walker
Max Walker on a Walker Mower.
Did Max and Margaret have a favorite Bible verse?
Dad was a man of scripture. He memorized a lot and often quoted verses and even chapters that were meaningful to him. The 23rd Psalm is an example of that. Psalm 126:3 (from King James Version, of course), "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
Another verse that Max favored was Psalm 121:1-2, “I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and Earth."
For Mom, it was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
- Bob and Dean Walker
Did Max and Margaret have a favorite hymn?
“One hymn I recall Dad favoring especially was “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”. Music was a big part of their lives. Mom played piano and dad played the stand-up string bass. As a result, as a family, we played and sang a lot. It was their ministry as well as hobby and relaxation. They just loved the hymns.”
- Bob and Dean Walker
Cowboy Values, Wisdom, and Everlasting Commitment
In the story of Max Walker, we discovered a man whose life mirrored the timeless values of a cowboy – resilient, hardworking, and deeply committed to principles. Max's iconic hat and boots weren't just accessories; they symbolized his roots and pride in the farmer/rancher way. His wisdom, drawn from biblical truths, guided a life of thoughtful decisions and unwavering commitment to faith and family.
Amidst cowboy humor and anecdotes, Max's partnership with Margaret shone as a love story of enduring commitment. Their favorite Bible verses and cherished hymns revealed the depth of their shared faith.
My name is Stephen Haag, here at Walker I have the great honor of being part of Walker Family Resources and the Walker Manufacturing Engineering Team. While many of us will never earn our cowboy boots, my hope is that, after reading this, each of us remembers to value the cowboy way of life and all that it stands for. We can look at Max and Margaret’s lives and see the impact their faithfulness to the Lord and one another had on many lives. This Founder's Day let's all strive to “earn our boots.”
Max Walker's boots.
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