George Herbert Walker

For other people named George Walker, see George Walker (disambiguation).
George Herbert Walker
Born (1875-06-11)June 11, 1875
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died June 24, 1953(1953-06-24) (aged 78)
New York City, New York, United States
Alma mater Stonyhurst College
Washington University in St. Louis
Occupation Businessman, banker
Spouse(s) Lucretia Wear (1874–1961)
Children Dorothy Wear (1901–1992)
George Herbert Jr. (1905–1977)
John M. Walker (1909–1990)
Parent(s) David Davis Walker
Martha Adela Beaky

George Herbert "Bert" Walker (June 11, 1875 – June 24, 1953) was a wealthy American banker and businessman. His daughter Dorothy married Prescott Bush, making him the maternal grandfather of President George H. W. Bush and a great-grandfather of President George W. Bush.

Early life

George Herbert Walker was born on June 11, 1875 in St. Louis, Missouri. Walker descended from a Maryland family of slave owners.[1] He was the youngest son of David Davis Walker, a dry goods merchant from Bloomington, Illinois, and Martha Adela Beaky. Ely, Walker & Company, which grew into a leading regional wholesaler, was later acquired by Burlington Industries.

Walker was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit boarding school in England. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1897.

Business career

Walker started a banking and investment firm named G.H. Walker & Co. in 1900.[2] His family had developed many international banking contacts, and he helped organize the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Walker was known as the power behind the local Democratic Party.

In 1920, Walker became the President of the W.A. Harriman & Co. investment firm, and quickly arranged the credits that W. Averell Harriman needed to take control of the Hamburg-Amerika Line. Walker also organized the American Ship and Commerce Corp. to be subsidiary of the W.A. Harriman & Co., with contractual power over the affairs of the Hamburg-Amerika. W.A. Harriman & Co. (renamed Harriman Brothers & Company in 1927) well-positioned for this enterprise and rich in assets from their German and Russian business, merged with the British-American investment house Brown Bros. & Co. on January 1, 1931. Walker retired to his own G.H. Walker & Co. This left the Harriman brothers, his son-in-law Prescott Bush and Thatcher M. Brown as senior partners of the new firm of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. The firm's London branch continued operating under its historic name Brown, Shipley & Co.

Walker was a director of the W.A. Harriman & Company; Harriman Fifteen, American International Corporation; Georgian Manganese Corporation; Barnsdall Corporation; American Ship & Commerce Corporation; Union Banking Corporation; G.H. Walker & Company; Missouri Pacific Railroad; Laclede Gas and the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico Railroad.

Golf and horseracing

In addition to his business concerns, Walker was also a golf enthusiast and a President of the United States Golf Association (USGA). The USGA's Walker Cup (the famous biennial golf match) acquired Walker's namesake for his role in the event's creation.[2]

He also coheaded the syndicate, (with W. Averell Harriman), which rebuilt the famed sports venue of Madison Square Garden and the Belmont Race Track, 1925.

Personal life

Walker married Lucretia Wear (1874-1961), daughter of James H. Wear and they had six children: Dorothy Wear Walker and New York Mets cofounder George Herbert Walker, Jr., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center CEO Dr. John M. Walker, Sr. (father of Judge John M. Walker, Jr.), James Wear Walker, Nancy Walker, and Louis Walker (S&B 1936). His brother-in-law Joseph Walker Wear was one of the founders of the Davis Cup. His son-in-law, Prescott Bush was a member of the executive committee of the USGA, serving successively as Secretary, Vice President and President, 1928-1935. Walker not only maintained the Walker's Point estate in Kennebunkport, but also a mansion on Long Island, and a stunning residence at One Sutton Place in Manhattan.[3] In the 1930s Walker purchased the 10,000-acre (40 km²) Duncannon Plantation near Barnwell, South Carolina as a private hunting retreat. In the 1940s Walker moved out of the circa 1835 plantation house, and much of the land was later purchased by the U.S. Government for development of the Savannah River Site.[4]

Death and legacy

Walker died in 1953 in New York City, New York, aged 78. He was survived by his wife, daughter Dorothy Walker Bush, several grandchildren including George H.W. Bush, Ambassador to Hungary and Stifel Nicolas CEO George Herbert Walker III, William H. T. (Bucky) Bush, Nancy Ellis Bush, Ray Walker, Betty Walker Holden, and many great-grandchildren including George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush.


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