John P. Walker, of Westford, Massachusetts, age 60, loving husband, father, brother, friend and national public servant, died peacefully on June 6, 2020, following a lengthy battle with cancer. The words and thoughts that follow are directly composed by John. John is survived by his wife, Laurel L. Walker (Baker), of Westford, whom he loved and cherished daily during almost 27 years of marriage, and by his much loved daughters, Julia Walker, Victoria Walker, and Katherine Walker, who all returned in recent months to live together in their family home in Westford. Julia, Victoria, and Katherine were John's greatest accomplishments, his finest legacy, and his eternal joy. John could never have imagined sharing such a loving and supportive marriage with Laurel, the gifts of such beautiful, talented children, or a closer family bond. Parent weekends at Boston College, Bucknell, and Virginia Tech were some of his and Laurel's favorite memories.
John is also survived by his beloved siblings and in-laws, Stephen Walker (Debbi) of Brentwood, California; William Walker (Melissa) of Vacaville, California; Robert Walker of Fairfield, California; and Betsy Jones (Doug) of Jasper, Georgia; by his dear uncle and aunt William and Ann O'Neill of Houston, Texas; and by many wonderful nieces, nephews, and cousins. John was privileged to assist in caring for his beloved uncle Edward Walker of Lynn in his declining years.
John was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, the son of Leo I. Walker and Marjorie A. Walker (O'Neill), who raised him in a loving and supportive family in Massachusetts before relocating to Danville, California, where John was graduated from high school. Marjorie and Leo both predeceased John.
A graduate of Boston College and Boston College Law School, John was a trial attorney for six years at the Boston firm of Burns & Levinson. He painstakingly earned the coveted respect of founding partner and legendary trial lawyer Tom Burns, who supported John's legal career, as well as his transition to a career in public service with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
John and Laurel, also a lawyer, met at a Burns & Levinson reception in 1990 and were married on Martha's Vineyard in July of 1993. They celebrated their marriage with family and many dear friends from childhood, college, law school, and the legal profession at a memorable reception at the East Chop Beach Club, where they are members. Despite many work-related relocations, the Walkers returned each summer to their home and friends on the Vineyard, where so many of John's favorite family moments were shared throughout the Island, especially in Menemsha and on East Chop.
After receiving the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award during his graduation from the FBI Academy in 1991, John began a long and diverse career, soon joined by his new wife Laurel. He served in the FBI field office in Salem, Oregon, where he was on the SWAT team, at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he was a supervisor in the Violent Crimes Section, and as supervisor of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force. John went on to serve at FBI Legal Attaché Offices in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bern, Switzerland. Having first visited Asia in 2004 to represent the FBI at an Interpol Symposium on Bali one year after the 2003 terrorist bombings there, John developed a keen interest in the region and culture. During subsequent, extended temporary duty in Jakarta, John led FBI assets on-scene in support of Indonesian partners following the 2005 Bali Bombings. In recent years, John deployed extensively for the FBI to Southeast Asia, Europe, and Canada to instruct foreign colleagues on counterterrorism and critical incident response.
The Walker Family's five-year diplomatic tour at Bern, where they all were active in vibrant embassy and international school communities, and where many life-long friendships began, was a particular career and personal highlight.
Eager to return to his origins, as a "street agent" actively collecting and adducing evidence back in the same federal court where he once worked as a trial attorney, and to enable his family’s return to Massachusetts, John stepped down from many years of supervisory duty to “line” investigative duty in Boston. This decision afforded him his most significant professional privilege: serving as a case agent with the small cadre of agents, analysts, task force officers, and prosecutors who successfully investigated and prosecuted those responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings and related crimes. A recipient of the 2016 FBI Director's Award for Outstanding Counterterrorism Investigation, John's true and abiding honor was to serve his beloved City of Boston, most especially the courageous and gracious survivors and family members of the victims of that atrocity. Thrice exempted from age-based mandatory retirement, John completed his investigative duties at the FBI's Lowell Resident Agency, where he focused on public corruption and violent crimes. After retiring as an agent in November 2019, John returned to the FBI in an analytical capacity until his death.
With a life-long interest in geography, history, and foreign cultures, John satisfied his wanderlust by walking great cities of the world, hiking the Swiss Alps, and meeting and working with talented colleagues and friends of many different nationalities and backgrounds. He relished delving into the history, culture, and current events of foreign nations and capitals which he visited with the benefit of a working sense of local geography. Laurel's gracious indulgence, including as a young mother, in abiding John's foreign assignments and travel, was among her greatest gifts to him. Still, John’s most cherished moments were at home with his family, gardening, running, and reading. Having survived another life-threatening illness while a college student, John was filled with gratitude for God's grace and love in blessing him with an extra forty years to marry, raise a family, enjoy a meaningful career, forge rewarding friendships, and to serve this great nation.
John was deeply appreciative of the excellent and compassionate care he uniformly received at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.
A Memorial Mass will be held on Friday, June 11, 2021 at 1:00 pm at the Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, 28 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA. A reception will follow from 2:00-4:00 pm.