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Friends remember Walter Timberlake

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Friends and family shared reminiscences of longtime labor leader and dedicated Democrat Walter Timberlake Monday. Timberlake, 89, passed away Sunday after a long struggle with various health problems, including diabetes.

Timberlake was a major force in the Texas Democratic party for decades. A statement from the Travis County Democratic Party said the party “mourns the death of one of its own. Walter E. Timberlake was a stalwart Democrat, serving as Precinct 424 chair for two decades before retiring in 2008. The entire Democratic community, particularly his South Austin Dems, will miss him.”

Despite his health problems, Timberlake continued to participate in South Austin Democrats, according to his friends Alicia Del Rio and Fred Cantu.

Cantu, president of the group, said Timberlake attended the Nov. 12 SAD meeting, where he spoke about the need to do more for the homeless. “Even at the end, he was part of our executive committee,” Cantu said. Del Rio said, “He was a long-term labor brother and very passionate about the labor union and Democratic politics.”

Many people use the word “stalwart” when referring to Timberlake, who served as business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 520 from 1979 to 1990.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore grew up with Timberlake in Waco. Moore’s father, Tom Moore, was district attorney for McLennan County from 1952-1960 and then served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Moore told the Austin Monitor, “Walter was my last link back to those days,” and his death is “a very significant passing for me …. Walter was one of the stalwarts that fought for working people, equal rights, (and) social justice, back before we knew the term social justice. The coalition back in those days was about all of the kinds of causes that I see growing out of the labor movement. Without the labor movement, we wouldn’t have Medicaid, Medicare. We wouldn’t have a lot of things without organized labor … he was one of the people that had been part of all that … Walter never gave up carrying those banners. I view him as one of the great mentors, one of the believers in the great issues of our time.”

Visitation is at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home in South Austin on Dec. 20, 6-8 p.m. The funeral will be held at St. Luke United Methodist Church on Dec. 21, 10-11 a.m.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Austin Monitor spoke with Fred Cantu. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

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