By Theresa Shadrix
The Alabama Baptist
March 4, 2004
A high-level public servant in Alabama infuses commitment to Christ into his life and work as he fulfills his responsibilities to protect Alabama’s children.
Page Walley, a member of First Baptist Church of Opelika, leads the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) as commissioner.
He promises a new day in the child welfare agency that oversees child support enforcement, child and adult protective services, food stamps, foster care and adoption.
The post was left vacant when Bill Fuller announced his resignation to become a career missionary.
Like Fuller, Walley brings a strong sense of faith, desiring to be a vessel used by God. “I will follow the example of Jesus Christ and go out and serve and draw people to Him,” he said.
Raised in LaGrange, Tenn., a small antebellum town of 160 citizens, Walley, the oldest of three siblings, said his childhood offered the perfect environment. His father’s hard work at his job in the cotton industry and his mother’s commitment to raising the family created a safe and loving Christian home. This influence would guide Walley throughout his life.
Upon graduating from high school, he attended Davidson College, Davidson, N.C., on a football scholarship, where he still holds fifth place in the top 10 for career rushing yards.
Although he was a stand-out athlete at Davidson, the pigskin did not determine his future as much as a gothic-style psychiatric hospital located in Bolivar, Tenn., just 22 miles from his hometown.
“I always was intrigued by the mental health field and the massive state hospital and wanted to pursue psychology,” he said.
Walley said he publicly confessed his salvation in his junior high school gymnasium during an evangelism meeting. “I admit though, during my college years I did not always remember the lessons learned in my Christian home,” he said.
His faith would find replenishment after he completed a master’s and doctorate in psychology at the University of Georgia. He then took a residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Coral Gables, Fla., and joined University Baptist Church, Coral Gables.
The love and influence of his new church home, as well as the leadership of Dan Yeary, now senior pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix, Ariz., offered a renewed faith. Yeary recruited him as the director of Christian counseling ministry at University Baptist, a position he held 1985–1987.
The staff position afforded him the opportunity to discover a gift for preaching after occasionally preaching in Yeary’s absence. “The church approached me about licensing,” Walley said. “Their policy was to reserve ordination for those who have seminary training. The church wanted to recognize a calling in my life, but I am not a full-time preacher.”
So Walley was licensed to the gospel ministry by University Baptist Church in 1986.
Walley said he does a lot of guest speaking in churches and Sunday School classes and is interested in supply preaching.
He met his future wife, Terry, a Montgomery native and Auburn graduate, at University Baptist in Coral Gables. With a strong foundation built on Christ, the Walley family — which includes children Blake, Jordan and Annelise — moved back to his hometown in 1987 so he could take the position of clinic director of Quinco Community Mental Health in nearby Bolivar, Tenn.
Amid his interaction with people in the community, he regained a grassroots feel for the needs of the people, enough so that he ran for public office. “People kept saying things about changing the state policy, and so I ran for office,” he said.
This led him to serve in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1990 to 2000, sponsoring the legislation that created the department of children’s services in 1996. He held membership on the calendar and rules committee, health and human resources committee, finance committee and the governor’s task force to study child care.
But he decided after 10 years in public service he wanted to focus on his family and the career he loved, so he served as a consultant for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. He next became the department’s commissioner. In March 2003 he moved to Alabama when Gov. Riley appointed him director of the department of children’s affairs.
Although Walley was the recipient of the American Psychological Association’s 1994 Karl F. Heiser Award for Advocacy and several other awards, he wants no glory for his achievements.
He said it is the everyday heroes like his parents, grandmother, minister, his wife, his in-laws and those in adversity he has counseled, who have influenced him.
Copyright 2005© The Alabama Baptist. All Rights Reserved. Contact The Alabama Baptist