COVID-19 strikes close to home: B.W. Eagle Eye ‘icon’ succumbs to virus
Best known as the popular proprietor of the former Millerton vintage store B.W. Eagle Eye, Barbara Walker passed away from the coronavirus at the age of 83 on Saturday, April 11.
Photo by Kaitlin Lyle

COVID-19 strikes close to home: B.W. Eagle Eye ‘icon’ succumbs to virus

MILLERTON — The village business community mourned the loss of a favorite shopkeeper when Barbara Walker, owner of the former long-time vintage store B.W. Eagle Eye, passed away on Saturday, April 11, from the coronavirus. She was 83 years old.

Regardless of how they met her or the extent of their acquaintance, many will remember Walker from her legendary sense of style, her lively sense of humor and the friendships she formed with shoppers and residents. Spanning 26 years, her store stood as one of the village’s oldest operating businesses. It was a place for Walker to channel her passion for the fashion industry and her retail experience into a successful Main Street business. Beyond the rows of fashion and home accessories, new and vintage clothing, antique jewelry and other treasures, customers could always count on finding Walker behind the counter with a welcoming smile and a discerning eye for selecting the perfect item.

Though Walker closed her shop’s doors for good back in December of 2017, her presence lingered in the minds of her fellow merchants, many of whom had the privilege of calling her a friend.

“She was a stylish character who was a Millerton icon,” said Kent Hunter, co-owner of Hunter Bee antiques in Millerton. “She had such a great history — she had great stories of fashion and the New York design industry.”

Having known Walker for almost a decade, Hunter said, “I will say we will always miss Barbara’s hourly visits to the shop. She would just pop in three or four times a day, and we always had fun seeing her. We’ve missed her, of course, for several years, but now there’s a big legend that’s gone.”

Combing through her memories of Walker, Jan Gilmor, co-owner of the now-closed Gilmor Glass Works at the corner of Main Street and Route 22, said she and Walker hit it off from the moment Walker stopped into her store to introduce herself. Calling Walker one of her close friends, Gilmor recounted how her late friend always dressed fashionably regardless of her surroundings and how she could always see the humor in others as well as in herself. Since she was always the first to know what was going on in the local region, Gilmor said she used to joke that Walker was “the town crier.

“She was a force of nature and she had a very, very powerful personality,” Gilmor said. “There were times when we disagreed and she wasn’t afraid of making her displeasure known, but in the end, she was always very supportive and very kind. We always patched it up.”

As a testament of the sincerity of their friendship, Gilmor shared the memory of Walker’s weekly visits when Gilmor was hospitalized for Guillain-Barré syndrome.

“She almost never missed a week,” Gilmor said, “and if she couldn’t come, we’d always talk on the phone. I can’t say enough for how supportive she was.”

Though the beloved former merchant has now passed away due to a health crisis that has all but brought the world to its knees, it’s clear memories of the fashionable Barbara Walker, with her trademark bob hairstyle and her dazzling smile, will remain in the hearts of Millertonites for many years to come.

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