Veteran radio consultant Rusty Walker died today (5/21) at age 59. He suffered a heart attack over the weekend and was airlifted from his hometown Iuka, MS to a hospital in Tupelo. He passed in the hospital.
Walker, whose real name was Sammy Darwin, was a much loved member of the radio community, earning a 2012 induction into the Country Radio Hall of Fame.
Walker had over 40 years of broadcast experience, including time as a programmer, consultant and on-air personality. He launched his firm in 1983 and grew to be one of the most powerful consultants in country radio. During his career, he worked with more than 750 different country stations from market 1 (NYC) to market 543 and smaller. As a personality and Program Director, his stops included WQYK, WQIK, WZZK and KFKF.
Walker was named by R&R in a three way tie for “Country Radio’s Greatest Programmer” of the 20th Century in 2000. He was also named Billboard’s Country “Consultant Of The Year” seven consecutive years out of the eight years the award was given. He also served on the CMA Board of Directors.
Outside work, he enjoyed being a father, boating and high school sports. He was an active member of Mt. Evergreen United Methodist Church and an enthusiastic supporter of the Tishomingo County School System. He volunteered in many civic capacities, including serving as emcee of the Iuka Christmas Parade and on the Iuka Heritage Day Committee Board of Directors.
The last few months were extremely difficult for Walker and his family. His 17-year-old daughter Kinsley Darwin died unexpectedly in March. He was also preceded in death by son Jay, who died in a hunting accident, and his parents, Jimmy and Mollie Darwin.
He is survived by wife of 38 years Teresa Darwin; two daughters, Nikki Darwin Clark and husband Nathaniel, of Iuka, and Beth Darwin Huntley and husband, Ryan, of Jacksonville, FL; and two grandchildren.
Visitation is scheduled for 4:00 until 8:00 p.m., Friday, May 25, at Mt. Evergreen United Methodist Church. Funeral services are scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, May 26, at the Tishomingo County High School Gymnasium. The body will lie in state at the gymnasium from 11:00 a.m. until service time on Saturday. Interment will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery. Cutshall Funeral Home of Iuka, MS is entrusted with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Sammy Darwin/Rusty Walker Memorial Fund, c/o BancorpSouth, P.O. Box 377, Iuka, MS 38852.
MusicRow offers sincere condolences to all his loved ones. More here.
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