Memorial Sunday for Tacoma artist, community leader Walker

Marcus Walker, Lakewood Playhouse Artistic Director and husband of Tacoma Deputy Mayor Lauren Walker, died March 11 after a long battle with metastatic melanoma. He was 53.

Walker was born on October 29, 1957 and raised in Ashland, New Hampshire and Laurel, Wash., where he fished with his father, set wheat fields on fire, raised pigs, played the violin, listened to his mother’s analysis of religion and television and rode his bicycle ten miles each day to deliver the Bellingham Herald.

Graduating from the University of Washington in drama and journalism, he received his Master’s in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, was ordained an American Baptist minister, and later received a post graduate degree in directing from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, England.

Walker was a violinist who played for the University of Washington Symphony and a singer who sang in a classical a cappella groups and on the stage. His musical roles ranged from the Matt the Boy in “The Fantastiks” to Horton the Elephant in “Seussical.” His dramatic roles ranged from Haley in “Master Harold and the Boys” to numerous characters in “Greater Tuna.” His final direction of a play was “My Name is Asher Lev.”

With his wife, Lauren, (they married in 1980) at his side, they moved from Seattle to Eugene, Ore., Boston, Mass., and London, England before settling in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma in 1989, where they raised Reuben and Henry. While working at Old South Church in the 1980s, he started Theater at Old South and one of the country’s first gay and lesbian fellowship groups in the midst of the AIDS crisis. He worked at theaters and churches throughout the northwest, including the Lakewood Playhouse where he was artistic director for just shy of 10 years and Burton Community Church on Vashon Island since 1995.

In lieu of flowers, Walker’s friends and family urge people to send a donation in his name to Partners in Health ( ) or to the Burton Community Church, P.O. Box 13134, Burton, Wash., 98013. A memorial service in honor of Walker’s life will take place on Sun., March 20 at 5 p.m. at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 North Madison Street, Tacoma, Wash.