Tom Walker receives Alex Dudchock Community Leadership Award
Published 11:12 am Friday, March 10, 2023
By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer
PELHAM – The 2023 Alex Dudchock Community Leadership Award was presented to Tom Walker Jr. at the 2023 Legislative Preview Luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex, beaming Walker strides to the front to receive the honor.
Walker is the former president of American Village which was founded in 1995. In the late 1980s, Walker first conceived the idea of American Village and solidified his passion to bring education and history to youth across the community.
“I was very much surprised and humbled to receive this honor,” Walker said. “In truth this honor belongs to many people who have helped make the American Village possible.”
The campus has served over three-quarters of a million students throughout the Southeastern United States since its opening and continues to draw thousands of visitors from the public every year.
“I committed to myself that I would do something each and every day to advance the vision of the American Village as a place to teach and inspire young people,” Walker said. “And at the end of each day I would consider what had been done to advance the cause. I firmly believe—especially after this experience—that perseverance in pursuit of one’s goal is indispensable. You have to have perseverance and to decide to do something—big or small—every day to advance one’s goal.”
Walker has remained an active and integral part of the Shelby County community, earning his Bachelor of Arts with honors in history and political science at the University of Montevallo.
“I think the fact that year after year students from all over Alabama, as well as from Georgia, northwest Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee are engaged in the Village’s immersive educational programs is our greatest accomplishment, and to do so with talented people in a remarkable setting makes it a shared great accomplishment for our friends and supporters,” Walker said.
In 2017, Walker was adorned with the honor of being selected as one of sixteen appointed by Congressional leaders to the United States Semiquincentennial Commission.
“First, I acknowledge that I have been blessed—as our country has— by an abundance of providential care,” Walker said. “Personally, I also acknowledge the incredible support of my wife Betty, my late parents, Thomas and Faye Walker, my sister Brenda Cash, my late in-laws Marvin and Joan Driver and four grandparents who nurtured and encouraged me in so many ways, as well as our children Matt Walker, Jane Walker Herndon and Dr. Jeff Walker.”
In December 2020, Walker received the Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Troy University. Walker is also past recipient of the American Bar Association’s highest nation award for excellence when it comes to K-12 law related education. Walker extended his thanks to everyone else who has helped get him where he is today.
“Secondly, we have many who have provided indispensable support: our Board and its leadership over the years, the State, Shelby County, Montevallo and other communities, public officials and so many generous volunteers and private donors,” Walker said. “The Board and our incredibly gifted staff undergird our work to fulfill our mission.”
Walker spoke on what a true honor it is to get an award named after the likeness of Alex Dudchock.
“Alex Dudchock has always been a model of what an ideal public servant should be,” Walker said. “He, with support of county commissioners and his staff, made Shelby County a model among the very best managed counties in the country. He has the highest ethical standards, he has always led by tireless example, and is a man of Christian faith and steady leadership. And I, and so many others, have counted him a friend and role model. So, to receive this honor which bears Alex Dudchock’s name, is humbling beyond words.”
Walker said that this current season of his life is being dedicated to share happy times with his grandsons, one who is two-and-a-half years old and another who is due later this month.
“I have not abandoned the vision or purposes of the American Village,” Walker said. “My dream is to serve in my role as Founder and President Emeritus to help the board and staff further advance the Village’s reach and its impact. This is a precarious time in our country and in our world. I want to help advocate the promise of America, our unity, our liberty, and to awaken further engagement by citizens in our constitutional system of self-government.”
Walker said he is happy to say that American Village has a solid successor with Colonel Alan Miller.
“He will carry on the work superbly and find new and innovative ways to make a positive difference for the American Village in our work to teach and inspire young people,” Walker said. “It’s a privilege to support him in this vital role.”