Vita Walker had forgotten about the video. Her husband, Jimmy, sent it to her on New Year’s Day, but she had never looked at it.

When she did, she saw him once again, as he did for 35 years, professing his love for her.

“We had a beautiful life together,” Walker said. “He told me, ‘You are the song of my life.’ ”

Mr. Walker, 59, died on Sunday, April 5, of COVID-19 at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health. He was Philadelphia’s first active-duty police officer to die as a result of the pandemic, the department said.

Mr. Walker – his name was James, but people called him Jimmy – was a Philly policeman for 33 years and was set to retire on Nov. 8. He worked narcotics, internal affairs, and traffic, and loved it. One time, dressed in his tuxedo, he left Vita on their way to a show to break up a robbery. She went on, and he made it to the theater by the second act.

He was raised in North Philadelphia, got degrees from Temple and St. Joseph’s Universities, and planned to work homeland security jobs instead of retiring altogether.

“He loved being a police officer,” Vita Walker said.

Mr. Walker was set to retire from the Philadelphia Police Department in November.
Courtesy of Vita Walker
Mr. Walker was set to retire from the Philadelphia Police Department in November.

After graduating from Parkway High School, Mr. Walker met his future wife in 1985 at Temple through a friend who thought they would hit it off. He got his degree in criminal justice, and they married on Aug. 12 four years later, and spent the next 31 years celebrating their union on the 12th of every month.

In addition to his police work, Mr. Walker was expert at home construction. He did electrical, plumbing and carpentry work around the house in Fox Chase, most recently redoing the bar in his basement man cave. He loved to play pool, work out, and shop with his wife.

They often bought identical clothes, and some people thought they were twins because of it. They traveled for years to island resorts to celebrate New Year’s, and he doted on his dog, Sadie Mae. He had tattoos, one reading, “Be better than your former self.”

Mr. Walker and wife Vita had the same taste in clothes.
Courtesy of the family
Mr. Walker and wife Vita had the same taste in clothes.

“He would ask me every day what I needed or desired,” Vita Walker said. “Even though he’s gone, I love him.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Walker is survived by daughters Qiana and Khalia; two brothers; and two sisters.

Gary Miles, gmiles@inquirer.com