Yesterday

A Farewell from Mr. Walker

Below is a farewell message from Mr. J. Carter Walker to the members of the Class of 1948. It was printed on June 4th, 1948 for Woodberry’s 59th Commencement. This was Mr. Walker’s last year as Headmaster, the end of a legendary 50-year tenure. In the year prior, his wife passed away in her sleep the night before graduation. Yet Mr. Walker was so committed to the school that graduation exercises were still held, albeit under mournful circumstances.


J. Carter Walker, Headmaster

J. Carter Walker, Headmaster, at his desk

To you, members of the Graduating Class of 1948, I would say a last word before we separate. Some of you have been at Woodberry for five years, others for only two. Whatever the duration of your stay, be it the five full years or fewer, each one of you has made a place for himself in our hearts that no one else can fill exactly as you have filled it.

It has never been easy for me to bid a Graduating Class Good-bye. I shall never forget the desperate effort I made last June, despite the crushing weight of sorrow that had befallen me only that morning, to bid Farewell to last year’s Graduates. This year for a different reason, the termination of my Headmastership in a few days, this message, the last I shall ever write to a Graduating Class, has a significance that is all its own. We are both, you and I, leaving Woodberry Forest to return in future only as occasional visitors. I hope it will be my happy experience to meet on such occasions, not too infrequently, many of you as fellow guests of the School.

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A photo taken from Woodberry’s archives of the original write-up published in The Oracle

We have shared some hardships and many thrilling experiences, as we have shared the feeling, common to us all at Woodberry Forest, that my old place of responsibility.

Your membership in the student body has come to an end, and your membership in the great body of Alumni has begun, a transition all the more significant because in a very real sense we have come to the beginning of a new era in the history of the School. I bespeak of the new administration the unqualified loyalty and support of the Alumni. My faith in the future of Woodberry Forest knows no limit. I want every friend of the School to share this faith with a confidence equal to my own. Assuring you, and in this assurance I include the lower form boys also, of the joy I shall always feel to learn of your achievements and of the sympathy with which I shall share any disappointment or sorrow that may come to you, I bid you Good-bye and good luck! God be with you, now and always.

original page

Archived copy of The Oracle

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