Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Dr. Vernon Walton was nominated to be Dr. Pan's Unsung Hero by his former office manager. She described how time and again, patients would express just how thankful they were to have had him as their doctor. They would share countless stories of Dr. Walton coming by to make a house call, seeing them for free when they were uninsured and had no way to pay, waiting extra late into the evening to take care of those who might be late, and his thoughtfulness.
Dr. Walton retired several years ago. His former manager says there are many who miss him and the love he showed his patients. They are grateful however that he instilled his generosity of spirit into his daughter, Dr. Stephanie Walton also a pediatrician and took over his medical practice. Dr. Stephanie recently took the time to answer these questions for her father.
Dr. Vernon L. Walton, M.D.
Tell us a little about your father?
My father Dr. Vernon Walton was born in Arkansas and raised in Joliet Illinois. His mother was a school teacher and father worked in the steel mill. He attended Medical school at the University of Illinois after college. From Medical School he did his postgraduate training at Cook County hospital in Chicago. It was at this time he met his wife, my mother, who was from California. After training, he moved his family west. He spent two years in the navy and then moved to Sacramento. He opened his first medical office in the Del Paso Heights area in the 1960's. From Del Paso heights, he moved his office to the south Sacramento area. He remained in his practice, the first African American Pediatrician in Sacramento, until 2010 when he retired. Now retired, he lives in Sacramento with his wife.
How has he made a difference in his community?
My father's mission was always to serve. He was dedicated to the health and welfare of all children in our community. He believed that all children regardless of race or socioeconomic status deserved quality healthcare, education and a chance to reach their fullest potential. He served as a role model, encourager and mentor to many low-income, underserved children in our community for years. .
Why did he work so hard in his work?
My father instilled in all of his children a strong work ethic. He wanted his kids to choose what we were passionate about and then be the best we could. He never viewed what he did as "work" but walking in his life's purpose. As I reflect upon it, my father was always "working" whether it was in the office seeing patients, making a house call, or serving in his church. He was always busy.
Are there any particular examples of accomplishment that you can point to of your fathers?
My father finished his medical training in the 1950's, a time in our country when there were many barriers for African Americans. He then went on to touch the lives of many children on our community for over 40 years. One child in particular went on to be very successful in the NBA and as the first African American Mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson. To this day Kevin Johnson has very fond childhood memories of going to the doctor's office and the relationship with my father over the years.
What struggles has your father dealt with most in his life?
I don't know if my father had any particular struggles, he never let us know about it if he did. I am sure there were the obvious work/life balance issues and the racial tensions of his time but he never complained.
What lessons did you learn from your father?
I learned so much from my father. I think the most important truths and lessons: "To those much is given, much is expected", "Work hard and give"., "Have a servant's heart", "Be humble"., "Be grateful for all things".
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
The challenges the children of our community face are many. Poverty, violence, drug abuse to name a few. To wipe out or "fix" any disparity or ills in our community so that all children could thrive and succeed would be that wish.
Is there anything else that you think your father would want to tell or share with his community?
He would want to say thank you to this community for allowing him to serve.