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Top 40: Tom Walker

Not many people can boast that they earned a law degree and passed the CPA exam in one sitting.

Tom Walker can.

Now the chief financial officer and legal counsel for the Bank of Forest, Walker enjoys a career that combines the best the financial and legal worlds offer. But despite his professional achievements, the Starkville native admits convincing his wife to marry him might be his greatest accomplishment.

Marital bliss aside, Walker is particularly pleased with his charitable endeavors outside the courthouse and boardroom. He helped create Forest Reading Partners, a non-profit corporation dedicated to helping students improve their reading skills.

“Studies have shown that there are few early indicators as important to a child’s success as their fourth-grade reading level,” Walker said. “Last year, the program has 34 volunteers working with 27 students, some of whom made significant advances in their reading levels. I’m so pleased with the support the program has received from the community.”

Appointed as the Bank of Forest’s CFO in 2009, Walker relishes his dual role with the bank and tries to use his legal and financial expertise in ways that benefit the city of Forest.

“It is unusual in a town like ours to have college-educated individuals, much less ones with professional degrees. I feel obligated to use my skills to benefit the entire community, including local businesses whose growth directly benefits our bank.”

Walker’s mantra to people who wish to make a difference is basic – just serve.

“Always show up when expected and place a high priority on the common good,” Walker said. “I have a great desire to see any organization that I am involved succeed.”

A former shareholder with Jackson law firm Watkins Ludlam, the personable Walker impressed his colleagues with an innate ability to achieve objectives, says Craig Landrum.

“The banking clients of our firm were quite taken with Tom’s drive, work ethic and personality,” Landrum said. “He has the ability to bring practical solutions to a difficult area of law in commercial banking.”

Walker’s unabashed admiration for former governor William Winter, now a partner at Watkins Ludlam, is clear.

“I was privileged to become acquainted with him when I practiced law full-time, and I’ve never met a man that is a more sincere leader,” Walker said.

“Governor Winter’s believes are an honest manifestation of his pursuit of the common good.”

Though he claims playing golf is more a vice than a hobby, Walker also enjoys coaching youth sports.

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