Regina Walker, a beloved music educator who impacted the lives of thousands of children over a distinguished career spanning more than 60 years, has passed away, her family announced.
Miss Regina died on Tuesday, April 6, at the age of 91. She left behind four daughters, Deborah Tyler, Barbara Walker, Dinah Toups, and Terrilee Haley; seven grandchildren, Katherine Tyler, Lauren Tyler Lyngarkos, Nathan Toups, Joshua Toups, Rachel Toups, Elizabeth Haley, and Benjamin Haley; and two great-grandchildren, Lyra Toups and Vera Toups.
She also left behind thousands of students spanning multiple generations, many of whom have shared their fondest memories of “Miss Regina” via social media since news of her passing broke.
“She was a beloved member of the community and her church,” her obituary said. “She will be dearly missed.”
A nationally-known choral director who has taught voice and piano in Livingston Parish since 1959, Miss Regina’s musical career began on a piano bench with her mother Omera Allen when she was a young girl.
She would later go on to get her bachelor of music education and master of piano degrees from LSU.
At the urging of her daughter Barbara, Miss Regina co-founded Livingston Parish Children’s Choirs, where she’d train countless singers and musicians to the benefits of choirs and congregations in Livingston Parish and beyond.
Under the direction of Miss Regina and others, LPCC became one of the more prestigious choirs in the state, with singers earning All-District or All-State status in the Louisiana Music Educators and American Choral Directors associations.
Over the years, LPCC students have performed both across the country and abroad and have even sung for former President George W. Bush and two Louisiana governors.
Prior to establishing LPCC, Miss Regina directed the Denham Springs Boys Choir in the 1960s and taught choral music at Central High School from 1976-81. At Central High, her choirs consistently received superior ratings at district and state choral competitions.
She also spent time in the 1950s at Beauregard Junior High School in New Orleans, where she taught and founded her first choral group, which sang statewide. To get more boys in the choir, Miss Regina challenged a gym class to a game of “H-O-R-S-E” and got the students to agree to join choir for one semester if she made more lay-ups than them.
Sixteen boys joined the choir that day, and most never left, her daughter Dinah recalled with a laugh.
Speaking to The News in January 2004, Miss Regina discussed her philosophy that “anyone can learn to sing.”
“Voice is a science in a way,” she said at the time. “You can learn to sing the same as a sport. Some have a talent and some don’t. They may never do a solo, but the techniques can be learned by anyone and they improve the sound of people who do have talent.”
In recent years, Miss Regina’s daughter and LPCC co-founder Barbara became the primary instructor, though Miss Regina still attended performances and assisted in ticket sales and sponsorships.
During recent LPCC Christmas concerts, Miss Regina directed all singers in her own arrangement of “Joy to the World/O Come All Ye Faithful.” In the spring concerts, she’d lead them in “God Bless America.”
Barbara spoke of her mother’s influence during a previous interview with The News.
“Mama has a very loyal following with her former students and their parents,” Barbara said in 2004. “She gives her choirs her whole heart and they know it.”
Miss Regina received multiple awards and recognitions throughout her career. In 2000, she was nominated by the Arts Council of Greater Denham Springs for the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
She was also selected to be listed in the Arts Council of Greater Denham Springs’ Hall of Fame and was named the 2007 Baton Rouge Music Teachers Association’s Outstanding Educator of the Year for her lifetime contributions to music in Louisiana.
In 2017, Miss Regina was awarded the inaugural Women’s Leadership Award from the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce for “the work and positive recognition” she brought to the area.
“We were proud to announce her as the winner and to acknowledge her life’s love of music, Denham Springs, Livingston Parish and the state,” Chamber President April Wehrs said in 2017.
Besides singing and training others to sing, Miss Regina enjoyed other hobbies. She was an avid golfer and loved to go fishing and ballroom dancing with her late husband of 68 years, Dr. Edwin Walker.
She also obtained a pilot’s license at the age of 16 — even before getting her driver’s license.
Miss Regina’s funeral service will be held at First Baptist Church in Denham Springs at 2 p.m., with visitation from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. People are invited to sign the on-line guest book at www.sealefuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to send donations to the Livingston Parish Children’s Choirs by visiting www.LPCCsing.org.