Antoinette Walker passed away peacefully in her home at Santa Rosa’s Varenna senior community on Monday, October 14, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband of 44 years, Boyd Nello Walker, in 1999.
The daughter of Angelo and Vincenza Zabatta, Antoinette was born on January 12, 1926, in Ridgewood, Queens. She had an older brother, Michael, and two younger siblings, Mary and Patrick. After her father’s sudden death, 12-year-old Ann stepped in to run the household while her mother worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to support the family.
Despite the early onset of adult responsibilities, which included taking a full-time job at Chase Bank while still a teenager, Ann found time for adventures with her “gang,” which included her sister, Mary, and great friend, Evelyn Raymond (now Fritz). Whether swimming at Jones Beach, skating at the ice rink on the former World’s Fair grounds, or dancing in somebody’s basement, Ann and her friends had a knack for having fun.
During her girlhood, Ann adored cowboy movies and music; as a young woman, she married her very own cowboy, Boyd Walker, who grew up on a Texas cattle ranch. The two of them opened a chain of laundromats, and thanks to their hard work, the business prospered. After they retired, the couple moved to Pinehurst, NC, and Naples, FL, where they devoted themselves to golf, travel, and enjoying one another’s company.
In 2014, Ann relocated to Santa Rosa, CA, to be closer to nieces who treasured her. She settled in the Varenna senior community, where she forged some close friendships. Family and friends alike appreciated Antoinette’s thoughtfulness, elegance, and gracious manners—spiced up with a sprinkling of plain-speaking earthiness. Many loved Antoinette Zabatta Walker, and many will long remember her.
A mass and celebration of her life will be held in the library at Varenna on Fountaingrove Parkway on November 6 (mass at 11 a.m.; celebration at 11:30). In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Memorial Hospice with a check payable to “Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital” mailed to 101 Brookwood Ave., Suite 202, Santa Rosa, CA, 95404. To read more about Antoinette, Google “The Life and Times of Antoinette Walker” for an online essay that shares some of her recollections.