Humble. Kind. Hero.
These are just a few words out of many that people used to describe Deacon Freddie Walthour Sr.
“He’s always been, in my mind, an honorable man in the county. I truly admired him. Our community is quite small, but it didn’t stop them from having excellent role models like Deacon Freddie Walthour Sr.,” Edna Walthour said.
Deacon Walthour died Aug. 8, surrounded by his family. He was a lifelong resident of Liberty County and was known in the community as an honest businessman, entrepreneur, a fair school-board member and active in his church, serving as a deacon at Zion Temple Holiness Church.
Edna Walthour grew up with Deacon Walthour’s children and later married one of his relatives to become a Walthour herself.
“I can say that he is a man that has inspired me because he owns his own business. He was a brickmason and a merchant, and he was a man of God,” Edna Walthour said.
Deacon Walthour was owner of Walthour Building Construction and had a corner store where he sold products.
“Even when I was a child, I was in and out of his store, and it was a place where parents could send their children and know they would be in a positive environment. You didn’t have to worry about who you would encounter at the store. Even the surrounding area of the store was a positive environment,” Edna Walthour said.
She recalled Deacon Walthour as being very approachable, easy to talk to and quiet. If someone in the community wanted to know how something worked or if an idea was feasible, he would do his best to help. He passed on these traits to his children, whom Edna Walthour also called honorable, kind and quiet. Although Deacon Walthour was quiet, when he laughed, one could feel his joyful spirit.
“I loved to see him when he laughed. I can still see him laughing. He was a man full of joy, and you could feel that joy when he laughed,” she said. “His spirit was one that I could always remember. I’ll never forget it. It’s a feeling that comes to my heart when I see him laughing and throwing his head back. It brings joy.”
Time on the school board
Former Liberty County School System Superintendent Edgar Edwards served with Deacon Walthour on the Liberty County Board of Education. Edwards described him as “just a real good man.” As a school-board member, Deacon Walthour always wanted the best for every student in the county and for them to get the education they deserved.
“I can’t say enough good things about him. He was a good, fair man, honest to goodness. I appreciated him so much,” Edwards said.
Deacon Walthour was the second African-American to sit on the school board. Liberty County Board of Commissioners Chairman Donald Lovette said Deacon Walthour indicated that his time on the school board was a good experience, that he had the cooperation of everyone, and that he was able to make progress in the school system.
“He said he was handpicked to sit on the school board. He thought that was quite honorable that the community thought of him to replace Lewis Frasier (the first African-American school-board member), who was another Liberty County icon,” Lovette said.
A brother and influencer
Deacon Walthour was like a brother to Albertha Golden Bacon.
“We were raised up together across the street from one another. We were like brother and sister. We saw each other every day and played with each other every day,” Bacon said.
Bacon’s father took the young Deacon Walthour under his wing and taught him about the importance of work. She said Deacon Walthour was very dependable. Whenever something needed to be done or put together, he was there. Hearing the news of Deacon Walthour’s death was hard for Bacon. She said she cried the entire day because they were so close.
Edna Walthour realized that Deacon Walthour influenced her life more than she knew. She has her own business, Best Care Health Inc., and he had his construction company. He sold products in his corner store, and Edna Walthour sells medical equipment and products under the name Best Care Medical. Deacon Walthour had the trade of brickmasonry, and her trade is nursing.
“I guess you can see how our professions related. But I didn’t realize it until now. I just know that he was special to me,” she said.
Honoring Deacon Walthour
Edna Walthour and county commissioners are discussing ways to honor Deacon Walthour in the Holmestown community.
“The past two years, I’ve been reflecting on the community, and one of things that stood out was asking the community to rename a part of Holmestown Road as Freddie Walthour Sr. Road,” Edna Walthour said.
Although nothing has been finalized, Lovette said he is looking forward to doing whatever he can to commemorate Deacon Walthour’s legacy in Holmestown.
“I really enjoyed knowing him,” Lovette said. “I have humongous respect for him, and I consider him to be one of Liberty County’s patriarchs. We’re all sad by his loss.”
His home-going service was Friday at St. James Sports Center. A college-scholarship fund was established in the name of Freddie Walthour Sr. Donations can be made to the fund administered by Wells Fargo Bank in Hinesville.
Deacon Walthour is survived by his wife, Ann Martin Walthour; five sons, Freddie E. (Eloise), Kirtley (Josephine), Michael E. (Shirley), Stephen W. Sr. (Latrica) and Mark L. (Carolyn); five daughters, Evelyn (Dennis) Olson, Mary C. (Walter III) Hines, Wilhelmina (Nathaniel) Blue, Carolyn Morris and Iona Jones; six stepchildren; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.