Have you ever known someone you never met?
After attending the MCMA for the first time in September 2006, I heard so much talk of this lady "Debbie Hayes Walker." Sadly, she had passed away before I had the chance to meet her. But thru her parents, friends,others and memorabilia at the MCMA, I have gotten to know her. As I put this "Special" page together, I have talked to many about her, trying to define her, so I could give the best information to you. However, I did not feel I could do her life justice, the page was to be a tribute to her and the information had to come from the heart and not newspaper clippings or pictures, they just couldn't describe her well enough. As you read this, about Debbie please keep in mind, the writing is from Debbie's Dad, Marshall Fillingim. I certainly thank Marshall and Evelyn for helping me to get to know Debbie. No one could have told us better about her... about Debbie Hayes Walker.
My daughter Debbie Hayes Walker, by Marshall Fillingim...
Debbie was born in Mobile, Alabama, March 30th, 1956. She was a lifetime resident of Chickasaw, Alabama. Debbie sadly passed away on April 1st, 2002, from complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery. Debbie had one daughter Leslie Dell Davis (deceased), two grandchildren, Kaylee Davis and Abbie Gale Davis. Debbie is the daughter of Marshall and Evelyn Fillingim, she had one sister, Marsha Clarke (deceased) and one brother, Randy Fillingim.
Debbie joined MCMA in 1986 and played fiddle in the shows first band. A few years later Debbie left the show and played fiddle in a new show started by her husband, it was called “The Gulf Coast Opry”, it was located in his music store in Saraland, Alabama. After a few years, the music store closed and the Opry was run by it’s members. Approximately seven years later, Debbie left the Opry show and along with her band. Mobile Country Music Association had fallen on hard times, due to leadership problems, their band had absent voids and membership was down. A call was made to MCMA by one of Debbie’s band members, to see if MCMA would like to have Debbie and her band to come by and play. The answer was “YES”. It didn’t take long, Debbie was band leader, singer, fiddle player and fronted the show. It started to get out that Debbie and her band were there and the people started returning to MCMA. Things for MCMA turned around with large crowds every Saturday night. Debbie also worked full time at Dillard’s, as a cosmetologist, in their shop.
One of her coworkers convinced Debbie she should have Gastric Bypass Surgery to help her loose weight. She would feel and look better. Debbie went into the hospital and had the surgery, after 4 1/2 months in intensive care on April 1st, 2002 Debbie passed away with her family by her side. Debbie had one of the largest funerals in Saraland, as visitation had to be held all day and into the night to allow family, friends and even the nurses who had treated her to come by to pay their last respects.
Shortly after her death, Mobile Country Music Association along with their Executive Board decided to create an award in the name of Debbie Hayes Walker, this award is given to the most deserving member of the MCMA for the year. A member who with heartfelt concern and a real appreciation for something they believe in, just as Debbie had done for the MCMA for years. This award would honor Debbie, bearing her name and recognizing her for her tireless efforts over the years. The award is voted on by the four Executive Officers and Chairman of the Trustees. It is presented at the annual reunion in May.
In the year of 2002, Debbie was voted into the Hall of Fame, these are presented in May also, at the annual reunion.. Debbie passed away in April, not living long enough to be presented and enjoy this award. Marshall and Evelyn (Debbie’s parents) were ask to allow Debbie’s fiddle to be displayed at MCMA, there is also a large display case with some of Debbie’s personal items. Finally, there you will find the Debbie Hayes Walker Award, what an HONOR it is to win one.
2016 - Helen Bozeman
2017 - Louise Gerald
This award is given in the name of Debbie Hayes Walker, a woman who brought such musical talent to the MCMA stage or where ever she was performing. She lead the band,she played several instruments and kicked off many a Saturday night. Debbie was what entertainment was all about. She is sadly missed and a great loss is felt in her absence. Read on and get to know this icon of a woman that we honor with the namesake of this award, and see why her giving nature lead the MCMA Board to honor her life and talent.Also, you will want to view those individuals who have been fortunate enough to be honored with winning this award.
Mobile Country Music Association
Debbie Fillingim Hayes Walker