• Mrs. Lulu Walker

     Lulu Walker

    Amphitheater Public School District used to be the only school district in Tucson which allowed married women to teach!

    Mrs. Walker was delighted to find Amphi - and Amphi was delighted to find her!

    The Life of Lulu Smith Walker

    Lulu Smith was born on January 16, 1889 in Lupus, Missouri. 

    Lulu's mother died just one month after she was born and her father died when she was four years old.  She was raised by an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Strothers. 

    In 1893, they moved by stage coach to a cattle ranch about 150 miles from Amarillo Texas.  Lulu and her new family moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1902 where she completed grade school and she enjoyed several visits to the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904.

    Lulu graduated from Missouri State Normal School (now called Central Missouri State) in Warrensburg, Missouri.  She then taught school in Eldon, Missouri for one year and in Okmulgee, Oklahoma for three years.  In 1912, she and a school teacher friend decided to head west!  Not knowing a soul, they arrived in Arizona the year that it was admitted to the Union.  There they both took jobs with the Phoenix School District.  She taught in Phoenix schools until 1917, when she accepted a position at the Flagstaff Normal School (now Northern Arizona State University) as critic-teacher of seventh and eighth grade teacher-in-teaching. 

    In 1919, she became the principal at the Kenilworth Elementary School in Phoenix, a school where the future Senator Barry Goldwater was a student.  She held this position for 15 years, during which time she also earned her bachelor and master degrees from the University of Arizona.  Over the years she found time to complete additional studies at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Missouri, and Harris Teacher College at St. Louis, Missouri. She left the Phoenix job and moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1936 when she married John F. Walker, a professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Education.  There she served as a substitute teacher in the Tucson School District because, like many school districts of that era, the Tucson School District would not issue a teaching contract to a married woman.  

    Mrs. Walker later obtained a 4th grade teaching position (her favorite grade) in the Amphitheater School District.  That district, on the north edge of then the metropolitan area of Tucson, did not have restrictions against married school teachers. Lulu Walker was a member of the Osborn Literacy Society, Altrusa, Delta Kappa Gamma, the National Retired Teachers Association and the Arizona Retired Teachers Association.  She was a member of the United Methodist Church of Tucson where was superintendent of the junior department for fifteen years.

    Dr. John F. Walker died in 1953 and Mrs. Walker continued to teach until her retirement in 1959.  At the time of her retirement, a new school, the Lulu S. Walker Elementary School, was named in her honor.  After retirement, she continued to reside in her home in Tucson near the University of Arizona until February, 1970, when she moved to Hillcrest Homes, a retirement center in LaVerne, California.  There she was active with the Hillcrest Homes Activity Council.  Mrs. Walker passed away June 23, 1986 in her 97th year.

    ~Written by Mike Landon, a relative of Lulu's