Caneyville's go-to guy
By Clare Grant

Leaves flutter into the gutter as Jerry Walker, 62, blows them off the sidewalk in front of the Bank of Caneyville parking lot. After he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, the community stepped in and raised money to pay for Jerry’s treatment. Now he and his wife, Cindy Walker, 45, give back to his neighbors by doing small jobs for them.

Jerry Walker, 62, is always willing to help others, but his reason goes far beyond just wanting to be a good neighbor.

After moving to Caneyville in 1997, Jerry, who is Black, and his wife, Cindy, who is white, were not greeted with open arms. Being the first and only Black citizen of the town was difficult for Jerry.
“We had mud thrown at our cars and house,” Jerry says. Gradually, as Jerry and Cindy got to know their neighbors, they were able to mend their relationships.

Then in 2018, Jerry, who rarely got sick and never missed work even when he didn't feel well, was sick and stayed home. That's when Cindy knew something was wrong.

“He doesn’t know sit back and relax, he doesn’t understand that,” Cindy says.

In July, he was diagnosed with five different cancers. The community held a benefit auction to raise money to help with his medical bills. They raised about $23,000.

“There was a time when I received, and now it’s my turn to give back,” says Jerry who is now in remission. These days Jerry does a variety of small jobs for his neighbors, including mowing lawns, blowing and raking leaves, power washing and painting houses – anything that needs to be done. Jerry also feeds the stray cats in his neighborhood.

“Jerry is just wonderful in this community," says E.E. “Mr. Spirit” McGhee, a former teacher who is a close friend. "When we think of Jerry we don’t see color, we don’t see Black and we don’t see racism. All we see is a wonderful man.”

Jerry doesn’t wait to be told when a friend needs his help. He just shows up and does what needs to be done.

“I know I can give him a call and he will be right here,” says Marilyn Templeton who is a close friend of the Walkers.

Things have come full circle for Jerry. Lately he has been helping with a benefit auction like the one his community held for him, this time for a man injured in a motorcycle accident.
Jerry finds joy in the things he does for his neighbors.

“I love this, I love giving back and helping out.”

Jerry loads his equipment into his truck in preparation for another day’s work. He and his red truck are familiar sights as he drives around the county looking for tasks he can do for someone.

Jerry constantly surveys his community to see if anything needs to be done. Even if he has spent an hour or so blowing leaves in the morning, if he drives back to the location later in the day and finds more leaves have fallen, he’ll pull over and do it again.

Despite it seeming mundane to others, Jerry finds joy in keeping his neighbor’s lawns clean and tidy. “Its the least I can do for all that they’ve done for me,” Jerry says.

Jerry has a good relationship with Dr. William C. Eriksen, a Leitchfield chiropractor. Jerry makes sure the area around the doctor’s office is tidy and the chiropractor makes sure Jerry can continue doing that.

While Jerry typically works by himself, his wife, Cindy, or his son, Jayden, 18, sometimes help him with his tasks.

Spray rises in the air as Jerry power washes a deck on a sunny fall day. All year Jerry works around his friends’ houses, helping keep things tidy. Different times of year require different tasks.

Jerry visits with Rita Duvall whom he worked with at Campbell Hausfeld in Leitchfield for 19 years before he was diagnosed with cancer and retired. Although the factory has closed, occasionally Jerry visits his former co-workers at the building, which is now used for storage.

When Jerry isn’t out helping his community, he and Cindy relax at home by watching their favorite YouTube channels.

Jerry smiles as he leaves E. E. “Mr. Spirit” McGhee’s house where he had just power washed the deck. Whenever Jerry finishes a job, he never fails to stop in and see how those he’s helping are doing. He also checks to see if there’s anything else they need.