Dr. Walker Lee Breland
J Henry Stuhr, Inc
Dr. Walker Lee Breland, 85, husband of June Starr Price Breland, passed away on Palm Sunday, March 28, after a courageous 14 year battle with Parkinson's disease.
Walker, a native of Walterboro, SC, began playing music by ear in his elementary school years. Learning to read music came next, where he traveled to Charleston to take piano and organ lessons from Vernon Weston. A graduate of Walterboro High School, he served as drum major and accompanied various choral groups. Walker received a full scholarship to Furman University, where he served as the accompanist for the Furman Singers. After graduating from Furman, he married his high school sweetheart, June Price Breland and served in the U.S. Army.
Walker pursued his PhD in sacred music from Indiana University. While in graduate school, he served as organist of North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana. Walker served as professor of music at Columbia College, Columbia, SC from 1965-1972. Each summer, he led educational tours for his students all throughout Europe. While living in Columbia, Walker served as the organist of Cayce UMC and Trenholm Road UMC.
In 1972, Walker moved to Tennessee working as a professor of music at the University of TN at Chattanooga. He led the Madrigal Singers and taught one of his favorites, a Survey of Jazz, as well as organ instruction. Walker chaired various committees including the Academic Affairs and Athletic Committees. He retired from UTC in 2004 after serving 32 years. Walker was a popular professor amongst the student body---it would not be unusual for former students to greet him while out and about in Chattanooga with his family, and remark that "they love jazz or classical music" because of his course at UTC.
While in Chattanooga, Walker served as the organist for First Centenary UMC, for 25 years. Upon retirement, he was named Organist Emeritus. Walker was encouraged to record a CD of his most requested organ pieces. One in particular, the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Op 42 #1, by Charles-Marie Widor, was always played on Easter services annually. This same recording was featured in his youngest granddaughter's wedding recessional, when he was not able to play due to his Parkinson's disease. He was a gifted musician, who not only played the notes proficiently, but allowed the Holy Spirit to infill his work, which he played to the glory of God.
One of the honors of his life, was to serve as the President of the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, in it's early years of inception. Walker was proud of the offerings of all genres of music to the wider Chattanooga community and the many lasting friendships he made along the way.
Walker and June were fortunate to travel the world together before his Parkinson's diagnosis and loved spending time with their four grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, June of Charleston SC; daughters: Beth Breland Snyder (Greg) of Johns Island, SC and Melanie Breland Hembree (Wade) of Milton, Ga; four grandchildren: Rachel Snyder Miller (Luke) of Knoxville, TN, Sarah Snyder Brown (Cary) of Myrtle Beach, SC and Walker and Will Hembree of Milton, GA; one great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Frances Miller; and his sister, Irene Stokes (Don) of Dunwoody, GA. Additionally Walker is survived by his extended family, sister-in-law, Judy Rembert Price of Simpsonville, SC; nieces and nephew, Paige Price McCluskey (Chris) of Anderson, SC, Rachael Price Garcia (Charles) of Simpsonville, SC and Becky and Jimmy Halford, of Atlanta, GA.
Walker was predeceased by his parents, Julius Earl Breland and Reba Walker Breland, of Walterboro, SC.
A private family graveside is planned in the near future. Arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc., West Ashley Chapel.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to: First Centenary UMC, PO Box 208, Chattanooga, TN 37401 attn: Music Ministry Fund.