Lois L. Walker, a former Alexandria councilwoman whose work on transportation greatly influenced the city, died Sunday. She was 73.
Walker was vacationing in Turkey when she contracted pneumonia.
After she fell ill, Walker’s two children—Boyd Walker and Donna Walker James—traveled to meet her.
In her public life, Lois Walker advocated tirelessly for a multi-modal transportation system in Alexandria years before the idea became popular policy in municipalities around the country.
"She was ahead of her time—pushing the city to adopt proven transportation solutions long before they were common,” current Councilman Justin Wilson said. “She continued her service to the city long after she left council, making the city and our commonwealth a better place."
Walker was a two-term councilwoman who served from 1994 to 2000. She represented Alexandria on numerous regional transportation bodies, including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, the Northern Virginia Transportation Coordinating Council and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board.
Current Councilman Tim Lovain, who got to know Walker while working with her on Democratic campaigns in the city, said she was a great believer in streetcars and rail transit, understanding the economic development benefits such systems can carry. Walker also served as board president of Virginia High Speed Rail and on the Virginia Railway Express Board of Directors.
“She meant a lot to me and helped me so much,” Lovain said. “I think she’s just a wonderful public servant, in the same line of great women in this city as Patsy Ticer and Marian Van Landingham, women who are always gracious, really great students of public policy and have the character and courage to do the right thing even when it’s not popular.”
A longtime local realtor, Walker also served as chair of the Alexandria United Way campaign, was a founding president of the Friends of the Torpedo Factory and co-founded the Alexandria Commission on Information Technology and the Potomac West Business Alliance.
David Speck, who served on council with Walker, said she had good political instincts and held a longview that helped guide her decisions. Along with her intelligence and unbaiting affection for Alexandria, Speck said he always admired his colleague’s geniality.
“There was a basic kindness that even if there were occasions you disagree, you never felt any animosity to it,” Speck said. “It was the one thing about Lois I think I always appreciated and tried to take to heart in my own conduct. And it’s something rare to find these days.”
In an email to Patch, Boyd Walker said details about a memorial service for his mother would be determined Monday.