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Rev. Josephine Thompson Walker, active churchwoman

March 30, 1927 – Aug. 30, 2016

The Rev. Josephine Thompson Walker, an active churchwoman who served as pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Buffalo, died Tuesday in Buffalo General Medical Center. She was 89.

The former Josephine Hunley was born in Deatsville, Ala., and attended Elmore County Training School in Wetumpka, Ala. After she married, she lived in Kentucky before coming to Buffalo in 1945. Over the years, she took in several children born to others and raised them as her own.

She worked at Sweet Kleen Laundry for many years and then was a domestic worker, commuting to Canada.

Mrs. Thompson Walker and her second husband, Willie Walker, organized a family singing group, the Spiritual White Rose Gospel Singers. She also was a member of several auxiliary groups at Calvary Baptist Church in Buffalo, and later joined St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, where she was invited to become a licensed minister in 1957 and, eventually, pastor of the church.

In 1958, she organized the Women Ministers Christian Association and founded chapters in Buffalo, Baltimore, Detroit and Cleveland. In the 1970s, she served as an assistant chaplain for women at the Erie County Holding Center.

She was predeceased by her first husband, Earl Thompson. Her second husband died in 1999.

Survivors include four daughters, Margaret Harris, Lenora Abu-Sweilem, Regina and Monica; four sons, Willie Hunley, Gregory Hunley, Dorian Thompson and Dwain; five sisters, Essie Jackson, Lucille Woodruff, Dorothy Fuller, Ethel Riley and Maxine Walker; a brother, Harvey Hunley; 61 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at noon Thursday in Calvary Baptist Church, 1184 Genesee St.

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