An ambassador of song, Mary Lu Walker is shown with elementary school children in Lviv, Ukraine in the late 1980s. The trip was part of a Sister Cities exchange between the US and the USSR.
Photo by Vladimir Cakbyk for Lviv's Pravda
Mary Lu Walker was inducted into the Steuben County, NY Hall of Fame on April 26, 2008. She attended the "2008 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony" at Bath Presbyterian Church in the company of her large family. Mary Lu joins the ranks of earlier inductees including aviator Glenn H. Curtiss, Steuben Glass founder Frederick Carder and philanthropists Fred and Harriet Taylor.
In 2017, Mary Lu received the Jefferson Award for Public Service. She represented Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties of New York at the awards ceremony in Washington D.C.
Mary Lu is a regular performer/volunteer at story times in the Southeast Steuben County Library. She continues to write songs, play guitar and perform for all age groups.
In June, 2007, Walker was honored by The ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes with its Arts Partnership Award. She was cited for her ongoing work as a community scholar, "exploring the traditions of our area on her own, long before The ARTS had a folk arts program."
She has performed in schools, universities, churches, concert halls, and open-air theaters across America and in Fiji, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Ukraine and Russia. In 1989, at the invitation of the Children’s Theater of Lviv, Ukraine, she took part in "Children of the Earth," a musical which featured her children’s songs along with those of Serge Banyevitch, a noted St. Petersburg composer.
Mary Lu with the Dudaryk Boys Choir of Lviv, Ukraine.
In 1993 and 1994 she traveled to Moscow to help create a “Duckling Parade” based on Robert McCloskey’s children’s book, Make Way For Ducklings. In 1999, she appeared with the People’s Theater of Lviv, Ukraine in the premier of a children’s musical.
In 1997, on a project for the International Executive Service Corps (USAID) she spent two months in Zambia working with children in private and government schools. For six weeks in 1998, she was a guest lecturer at the College of Music in Harare, Zimbabwe. While living in the Fiji Islands from 1990 to 1992, she presented a weekly children’s radio program, “Share The Sunlight.”
She has conducted teacher workshops in Australia, Fiji, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as throughout the United States and Canada. In 1986, she was elected an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international organization of outstanding members of the teaching profession.
Mary Lu's music is a regular feature on the nationally syndicated PBS program Weekend Radio as it was for many years on Woody’s Children on WQXR in New York City. WSKG Public Television in Binghamton, NY has aired Everybody Has A Song, two programs featuring Walker and six of her songs for children.
In the mid 1980’s, Walker was host and performer on Saints Alive, a series of 20 short video programs produced by ITV of the Archdiocese of New York.
Each year from 1984 to 1994, Walker received a Popular Award by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). In 1989 she received the Arts Partnership Award from the Chemung Valley Arts Council. In 1994 the Girl Scouts of America honored her together with Astronaut Eileen Collins as “Women of Excellence Today.”
The music for four of Walker’s albums has been published in book form, and in August 1993, Friendship Press published A World of Children’s’ Songs, a collection of more than 100 children’s songs edited by Walker. In November of 1996, Paulist Press released The Best of Mary Lu Walker. The collection of 24 songs on CD or cassette was culled from six children’s albums recorded from 1973 to 1989. Her classic album, Middle Age Middle Class Mama Songs, was re-released as a CD in 1999.
Mary Lu was married to Don Walker from 1951 until his death in 2017. Together, they raised eight children in South Corning, NY. Their son Luke, died in 2016. Mary Lu has thirteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild.