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Obituary: The Revd Dr David Walker

02 March 2018

The Ven. Robert Williams writes:

THE Revd Dr David Walker, a former Canon Chancellor of Brecon Cathedral, who died on 20 December, aged 94, was a man of many parts and much energy, having been an RAF pilot, university lecturer, clergyman, and author.

David Grant Walker, was born in Bristol in 1924, was educated locally and sang in the choir of Christ Church, Bristol. He joined the RAF in 1940, and was sent to Cambridge to study mathematics, and to Canada to train as a pilot. He was commissioned and sent to the Far East, where he flew heavy bombers in the Burma campaign. After the war, he remained in the RAF Reserve and was re-trained on jet fighter aircraft in preparation for service in the Korean War.

After he was demobbed, he went to the University of Bristol, where he studied history. He then obtained a D.Phil. from Balliol College, Oxford, after which, in 1951, he was appointed to University College, Swansea, to teach medieval history. He remained in post for some 30 years, during which he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He was a talented lecturer and a valued colleague, and maintained friendships with many of the students he taught. His publications include Charters of the Earldom of Hereford 1095-1201, Medieval Wales, The Normans in Britain, and the The Cartulary of St Augustine’s Abbey, Bristol.

From his time as a choirboy, David’s faith was an important part of his life. At Cambridge, he was much influenced by Canon Charles Raven. He was an active lay member of his congregation in Swansea, and thoughts of a vocation were never far from his mind. In 1961, Bishop Jack Thomas of Swansea & Brecon introduced non-stipendiary clergy to the diocese and, in fulfilment of David’s thoughts and prayers, invited David to be ordained. David was the first person to be ordained as an NSM, being both deaconed and priested in 1962. He was placed at St Mary’s, Swansea, and Canon Harry Williams added parish, diocesan, and provincial responsibilities to those of his university post.

Davie became Chaplain to the University Air Squadron in 1964 and to the RAF in 1967. From 1972, when he was appointed a Canon of Brecon Cathedral, he played a full part in the life of the Cathedral, often cherishing the Easter month-in-residence, which was problematic to other Canons with parish responsibilities. He undertook a great deal of work in the Chapter Library. He became Precentor in 1979 and was Chancellor from 1990 to 1993. Alongside this. he continued parish duties at St Mary’s and St James’s in Swansea and, over the years, served Hafod, Manselton, and Caerethin parishes, where he was much loved and respected.

For almost 20 years, he was Chaplain to the Royal British Legion, Swansea and West Wales Branch, and was a devoted padre to the Burma Star Association and Far East POWs. He also found time to be active in the Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society, of which he is a past president; the Historical Association in Bristol and Swansea, of which he was secretary and chairman; the Glamorgan History Society, of which he was vice-president; and the Royal Institution of South Wales. He was a founder member and past chairman of the Swansea Philharmonic Choir.

David married Margaret in 1951, and they spent 66 years together. Family was very important to David; he leaves his wife, daughter, and son, and four grandchildren.

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