December 16, 2002 - Lexington Herald Leader: Family, friends honor life's work of PNG RPCVs Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Papua New Guinea: Peace Corps Papua New Guinea : The Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea: December 16, 2002 - Lexington Herald Leader: Family, friends honor life's work of PNG RPCVs Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson

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Family, friends honor life's work of PNG RPCVs Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson

Family, friends honor life's work of PNG RPCVs Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson

Family, friends honor life's work
By Andy Mead


COLUMBIA - Speaking at a memorial service yesterday, Rob Peterson fondly remembered his sister and her husband, both recently murdered.

Then he mentioned their two sons.

"I am impressed by the character they have instilled in Manning," he said.

"And I pray for Blake."

Manning Walker, a college student, sobbed in the front pew of Columbia-Union Presbyterian Church.

The whereabouts of Blake Walker, 16, are not known.

Police say that a week before yesterday's memorial, the Boy Scout, model student and athlete killed his parents, Brian J. Walker, 54, and Barbara E. Peterson, 55.

Rob Peterson's comment was the only mention of Blake Walker yesterday. Police said late last week that they had reason to think he was in south Texas, but have said nothing since.

Blake Walker had been charged Nov. 15 with driv-ing under the influence after he lost control of the family car. He was released to his father, but no one yesterday was offering that as a motive for such a shocking crime.

Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson were well known in the Knifley community and throughout Adair County.

She taught psychology at Lindsey Wilson College. Brian Walker was founder and chief of the Knifley Volunteer Fire Department.

As many as 300 people crowded into the small church. They filled every pew and the choir loft, stood along the walls and spilled over into back rooms.

Peace Corps stories

Several friends and relatives spoke, describing the couple as warm, caring, deeply involved people.

Both had been in the Peace Corps, helping some of the word's most primitive people in Papua New Guinea, and working in Afghanistan as the Taliban was taking control after the Soviet Union pulled out.

Rob Peterson told about occasionally seeing his sister occasionally in the burqa she had been forced to wear in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He told about Brian Walker, who as an honored dinner guest in Papua New Guinea realized he was sitting before a platter of stewed fruit bats.

"He told them his religion prevented him from eating fruit bats, but that he would be happy to have some of the crayfish he had seen out in the street," Rob Peterson said.

Dennis McDonald, who had served in the Peace Corps with the couple, said they had a knack for getting into trouble and a better knack for getting out.

"I would like to thank the Walker and Peterson families for creating the most beautiful people I have ever known," McDonald said.

There were tributes from Masons, from a representative of Lindsey Wilson College, and from the volunteer fire department.

After firefighter C.R. Drake spoke, the church was filled with the scratchy sounds of a radio, with a dispatcher's voice issuing "a final call for Brian Walker."

People recalled the way Barbara Peterson's eyes twinkled, and the deep bass of Brian Walker's voice.

'Use this tragic event'

"I've seen a lot of people, but I believe Brian and Barbara are the most inspirational," said the Rev. Richard Guerrant. "'We need a fire department? Let's start one.' 'They've got trouble in Afghanistan? Let's go.'"

Brian Walker's older brother, Reno Walker, urged people at the service to "use this tragic event as they would want us to, to turn a page in our lives. To do better, make better decisions."

Barbara Peterson's older sister, Susan Weaver, talked about a particular childhood memory.

Their parents had filmed Susan riding her bicycle down the driveway, followed by Barbara on her tricycle. At the bottom of the drive, the tricycle tipped over, spilling Barbara.

"As we watched that, my father would always back the film up. We would see the tricycle right itself, and Barbara would go back up the driveway.

"I wish we could do that today."
Reach Andy Mead at (859) 231-3319, 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3319, or

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Story Source: Lexington Herald Leader

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Obituaries; COS - PNG



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