Sally Jane Walker passed over on 3/17/2023 at the age of 87, a month shy of her 88th birthday. Sally was born in the United Kingdom on 4/25/1935. She is survived by, her daughter, Karen Walker (Richard Heidinger), grandson Alexander Henkel, granddaughter Zara Russell (Tanner), great-granddaughter, Avina Rose Russell, brother, Major Robert Maclagan (Patricia), and nephew Ross Maclagan (Helen).
During Sally’s childhood World War Two began. She grew up in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, where German bombers flew frequently. She remembers the nighttime blackouts in her home and the period of time in which bombings occurred regularly from 1940-1944.
Sally and family visited their father, Thomas Author Maclagan, in the late 1940s during the time that he was the British Magistrate stationed in Sudan. Her travels with her family to Sudan, neighboring Egypt were some of her favorite childhood memories.
When the war was over, Sally was sent to boarding school to complete her education. After boarding school she did not want to go to secretarial school or do any of the traditional female roles of her time. She was intent on studying horticulture, and her mother discovered a women’s school called Waterperry Horticultural School in Oxford, England.
After receiving her Certificate of Horticulture, she went on to work at Jack Drake’s nursery in Scotland, the Ingwersen Nursery in England, and then emigrated to New Zealand where she ran a rock garden with the parks department in Invercargill. She often spoke of her days in New Zealand as her happiest times.
During her years in New Zealand she took a mountaineering trip to Chile. There were no ships back to New Zealand for some time so she booked a holiday-99 days for $99.00-of the USA. On this journey, she met her late husband, Tim Walker, at the Museum of Northern Arizona, looking at the Steller’s Blue Jay.
Tim worked for the Forest Service and was eventually stationed in the Chiricahua Mountains, where they purchased 29 acres from an elder miner who still resided in Paradise, Arizona. Here, they built an adobe home with no running water or electricity but plenty of beauty and wildlife.
Together, they explored Mexico and the Western United States, collecting snakes, plants, and seeds in the 1970s. They took their daughter, Karen with them, avoiding the school truant officers whenever possible while Sally homeschooled Karen. The family summers were spent in several fire lookouts in the Chiricahuas, primarily Silver Peak.
Eventually, Sally and Tim started Southwestern Native Seeds in Tucson, Arizona, a business that sold seeds internationally and operated for 42 years. During this time, Sally also spent time working at Western Hills Native Plant Nursery in Occidental, California for many summers. She also ventured into South America for several plant-hunting expeditions, traveled to South Africa to tour some of the National Parks, and traveled back to the United Kingdom for family visits.
Sally was a lifetime member of the North American Rock Garden Society. She attended many NARGS conventions and received the Marcel Le Pineic Award in 1996 for extending and enriching plant material available to rock gardeners.” Her only bumper sticker read, “I brake for wildflowers.”
Sally also resided in Show Low, Arizona, and then Cochise, Arizona but left every year to live out of her VW van while collecting seeds throughout the western US. She was a strong individual both in character and in physical strength. She was an independent thinker and lived according to her own ideas, uninfluenced by societal conditioning.
Sally spent her last year and a half at Sedona Winds Independent Living in the Village of Oak Creek, Arizona, and enjoyed the activities, the residents, and spoke highly of the good food! Sally was even asking about lunch at end of life. She was grateful for Sedona Winds friendly and helpful staff. Her daughter, Karen took her out regularly for Nature outings and their last walk together was on March 7th, 2023.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the North American Rock Society at https://www.nargs.org/product/donation
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