City commissioners honored longtime AIDS Help director and former schools superintendent Robert Walker by naming a stretch of Donald Avenue after him.
Robert Walker Memorial Way will run between 16th Terrace and 19th Street in New Town, commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday, without discussion.
Walker, 68, died Feb. 26 from cancer, leaving his wife Celia, seven daughters and 10 grandchildren.
"The city of Key West expresses its gratitude to the family of Robert G. Walker for his services and for the support and assistance provided by his wife and children through more than 30 years of service to the community," the resolution reads.
Walker was "an exceptional citizen of Key West who should be honored for the myriad ways he worked to sustain and improve education, health and cultural opportunities for generations of Key West citizenry."
The resolution to name the portion of Donald Avenue after Walker was sponsored by City Commissioners Mark Rossi and Billy Wardlow.
In 2001, having retired from the school district, Walker became executive director of AIDS Help, Inc., a powerful nonprofit that provides services and housing for people living with HIV and AIDS along with public education about the disease.
"The truth is, in the early years this agency operated in secret because we were in a hostile environment," Walker told HIV Positive magazine years ago. "But since I came here, I've been determined to change that. We are a legitimate health care organization and we have no reason to hide. I want us to be at every street fair, every parade, every community event. It's time to strip away the stigma."
The nonprofit raises about 20 percent of its budget through a host of local fundraisers, money that qualifies it for state and federal funding that goes directly to client services.
In 2012, AIDS Help held 16 fundraisers in Key West.
Under Walker's leadership, AIDS Help in 2011 opened Poinciana Royale, a 50-unit housing project for those struggling with the disease. The nonprofit said within one month it had filled each one-bedroom unit, a 625-square-foot apartment, with someone living with AIDS in need of affordable housing.
Walker, born in Dallas on Aug. 28, 1944, hailed from Petal, Miss., a tiny city just outside of Hattiesburg. He graduated from Petal High School in 1963 and went on to earn advanced degrees from Mississippi State University.
But he left his legacy in the Florida Keys, first in education with a full career here as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and principal in Monroe County before running for the superintendent's post.
He then spent a decade running AIDS Help.
Walker married Celia Milian, whose family goes back at least six generations in Key West. Their marriage spanned three decades.
The local Rotary Club honored the longtime Rotarian with the Robert G. Walker Humanitarian Scholarship, and the city proclaimed July 18, 2012, as Robert G. Walker Day.
Walker retired from AIDS Help on June 30, 2012. Friends, colleagues and local dignitaries spent several months lauding him with various honors and a reception at the Gardens Hotel.
This year marked the first Robert G. Walker Golf Tournament, which AIDS Help plans to host yearly.
Walker accepted the honor of his own day in person on July 17, 2012, while struggling with prostate cancer.
Having heard Deputy City Clerk Angela Budde read the proclamation, which ended with a thank you "for making Key West a better place to live for our needy friends and neighbors," Walker attributed his success to the island community.
"I'm feeling a little bit embarrassed and also very humbled," Walker said, after a rousing standing ovation. "I think it's my great good fortune to live in Key West, which is the most caring, supportive community I know. I think this honor tonight is just a reflection of the concern, love and caring that manifests in this community."