ARCHDIOCESAN PRIEST, REV. RICHARD J. VALKER, DIES
Pastor Emeritus of Lake Zurich Parish
Chicago, IL (October 28, 2011) – Rev. Richard J. Valker, pastor emeritus of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich, died Thursday, October 27, at St. Norbert Rectory in Northbrook after several weeks of hospice care. He was 79 years old and a priest of the Archdiocese for 54 years.
Fr. Valker was a Chicago native. He completed six years of Catholic elementary school in Des Moines, Iowa, finishing at St. Edmund School in Oak Park. He was a graduate of Quigley Preparatory Seminary and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. Fr. Valker was ordained by Cardinal Stritch in 1957.
He served as assistant pastor at St. Gertrude Parish in Franklin Park for five years following his ordination. In 1962, he was assigned as assistant pastor of Holy Cross Parish, where he served until 1966. In that year, he became assistant pastor of St. Bernard Parish, serving there until 1969. Both those Chicago parishes are now closed.
For six years beginning in 1969, Fr. Valker was the assistant pastor at St. Clement Parish on Chicago’s north side, before being named associate pastor at St. Alphonsus Liguori in Prospect Heights, where he served until 1980. From 1980 to 1982, Fr. Valker was the associate pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lake Zurich, followed by an 11-year term as pastor.
In 1993, he became the associate pastor of St. Norbert Parish in Northbrook, serving there until his retirement in 2001, when he was named pastor emeritus of St. Francis de Sales in Lake Zurich.
Though retired, Fr. Valker continued to serve the people of St. Norbert Parish as a very active senior priest. Fr. Bob Heinz, pastor of St. Norbert, described Fr. Valker as beloved by the people and one whose fondness for athletics drew him to the games of many young parishioners at Glenbrook and Loyola high schools and the elementary school as well. “Parishioners would stand in line after Mass just to talk with him, and everyone thought he was their best friend” noted Fr. Heinz.
Fr. Jim Donovan, Executive Secretary of the Priests’ Placement Board, met Fr. Valker as a seminarian assigned to Fr. Valker’s parish. “He showed me what a good parish priest is and he led the way by example,” Donovan says. He also recalled that Fr. Valker could get as excited about local school sporting events as he did watching professionals play.
“People loved his homilies,” added Heinz. “They were simple, profound and drew from everyday life,” he said. Fr. Heinz added that Fr. Valker was gifted with a tremendous sense of humor and was a very grateful and humble man who, when people prayed with him during his final illness, would always pray for the people of St. Norbert.
A wake for Fr. Valker will take place from 2 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1, at St. Norbert Church, 1809 Walters Avenue in Northbrook. Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant at a funeral Mass for Fr. Valker at
9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 2, at St. Norbert.
Interment will take place at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines. Fr. Valker is survived by two sisters, Ann Benge and Virginia Valker.