Walter Ignatius Willard, Esq.


After a well-fought battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Walter Ignatius Willard peacefully passed away on February 11, 2022, at the age of 64.

A proud Purple Knight, Walter attended St. Augustine High School, and prior to graduating in 1975, played trumpet for St. Aug’s renowned Marching 100. He not only was the trumpet section leader, but also was the first musician selected to play the band’s newly introduced herald trumpet. Continuing his education at Tulane University, where he earned a B.A. in political science in 1979, his ceaseless love of music led him to join the university’s marching band. Walter then ventured to Washington, D.C., where he obtained his J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law in 1982. While in the nation’s capital, Walter worked in the Capitol Hill offices of Louisiana Congressman Gillis Long, Senator Russell Long, and Senator J. Bennett Johnston.

Community Leader and Family Man

Walter returned to New Orleans to start his law career, eventually earning a Master of Law degree in energy and environment from Tulane Law School in 1993. Over the course of his 30-year legal career, he was admitted to the bar for the states of Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and served as judge pro tempore for the Orleans Civil District Court. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” A passionate advocate for justice, Walter spent his career leveraging his judgment and compassion in the pursuit of Dr. King’s vision for authentic peace. One of his greatest endeavors in this regard was acting as one of the plaintiffs in the historic Supreme Court redistricting case Chisom v. Edwards, which set the stage for Louisiana’s first African American Supreme Court justice. 

            Walter’s remarkable life was characterized by unconditional love and support for family and friends, zealous engagement with community programs and initiatives to improve life for others, and an ardent devotion to God. A lifelong parishioner at St. Raymond Catholic Church, he was an altar boy in his youth and, following in his father’s footsteps, became a member of the church’s choir as an adult.

Selflessly committed to the betterment of his community, Walter’s civic involvements included acting as a voluntary attorney in child neglect cases for the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court CASA program; participating on the mayor’s Environmental Affairs Advisory Committee as well as the Task Force on City-Owned Cemeteries; and serving as a member and chair of the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission. Additionally, Walter was a 30-year member of the Sugar Bowl Committee and a nine-year board member of both the Young Leadership Council and Young Audiences of Louisiana organization.

A veritable Renaissance Man, one could easily find Walter in a courtroom arguing a case; at Tipitina’s jamming out to the Soul Rebels; at the Riverbend coaching his daughters’ soccer teams; and at the Loyola gym picking up a game of basketball; in the kitchen making omelets; or in the yard planting a garden, restoring an old car, or playing with the family’s menagerie of pets. He was a wonder to all who knew and loved him, and he will be remembered fondly for his joyful spirit and relentless optimism, which served him well until God called him home.The loss and death of Walter bears witness to the divine and mysterious power of redemptive suffering. Through his heroic battle, Walter has helped shower numerous heavenly graces and blessings upon all of those he loved so deeply, and we are eternally grateful.

Walter was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 14, 1957. He was the fifth child of 12 born to the late Elliot “Doc” Willard Sr. and Mary Jane Jordan Willard. He is survived by the love of his life Valerie “Missy”; their three daughters Jordan Powers, Jillian Elizabeth, and Jenna St. John; his 11 siblings Hon. Cynthia, Elliot Jr. (Susie), Regina (Joseph), Jacinta, Col. Christopher Sr. (Rhonda), Bernadette (Rufus), Dominic Sr. (Terrie), Martin (Nia), Hon. Benedict (Diane), Lucita, and Katherine; as well as many nephews, nieces and friends.

Service Information: A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, February 18, 2022 at St. Raymond & St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 2916 Paris Avenue. Visitation begins at 9:00 am. Recitation of the rosary will take place at 10:00 am, followed by tributes. Mass will begin at 11:00 am.  Rev. Boseman, Celebrant. Interment Mount Olivet Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the St. Augustine High School Marching Band at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.