Remembering the Legend: Duard Walker, Milligan College
Published 3:58 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023
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BY C.Y. Peters
Duard Walker played football, basketball and baseball, earning varsity letters in each, at Mary Hughes High School in Piney Flats. As a freshman at East Tennessee State, he earned a varsity letter in baseball under Jim Mooney (formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals). He arrived at Milligan College as a sophomore in 1942 and wrapped the rest of his playing career around a three-year stint (1944-46) in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His World War II service was mostly in the South Pacific. Walker was in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, primarily.
While a Buff, he lettered in football, basketball, tennis, baseball and track. He remains the only Milligan athlete to have earned 12 varsity letters in five different sports. Duard was selected outstanding scholar-athlete in 1947-48. He played football at Milligan under four different coaches: Steve Lacy (1942), Navy V-12 coach (1943), Raymond Brown (1946) and Hugo “Red” Yancey (1947). Duard was included in the first group assigned to the Milligan College Navy V-12 program in July 1943.
Receiving a bachelor of science degree from Milligan in 1948 and a master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1949. From there, Walker began working at Farragut High School in Knoxville, where he coached football, basketball and baseball for two years. He returned to Milligan in 1951 and coached non-scholarship teams in baseball (8 years), basketball (15 years), cross country (20 years), track & field (20 years) and tennis (27 years).
Duard Spent an astounding 50 years as Milligan’s athletic director, retiring in 2000 at the age of 76. Walker’s cross-country teams captured seven consecutive Volunteer State Athletic Conference championships and reached one NAIA national championship meet in Salina, Kansas.
He won a Volunteer State Athletic Conference track & field title in 1966 and won a Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference basketball tournament championship in 1959. Posted 130 career wins coaching the Buffs in basketball, Also served as a teacher and head of the physical education department at Milligan.
In 2000, the Appalachian Athletic Conference established the Duard Walker Trophy to recognize member institutions with the most successful all-around sports program each year.
He was named the NAIA Athletics Director of the Year in his final year. In 1993 Milligan College Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, 1995 Northeast Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame inductee, 2008 NAIA Hall of Fame inductee and 2013 Carter County Sports Hall of Fame.
He refereed basketball and football for a number of years and in the 2013 Games, claimed six gold medals and two silvers out of the eight events he entered.
He competed annually in the Tennessee Sportsfest, winning gold and silver medals in badminton.
Duard was married to Carolyn Roberts, a Milligan graduate. The couple has five children, each a Milligan alum. Sadly Duard passed away on August 18, 2020, at the age of 95.