It was nearly 1 p.m. on Monday before Jill Walker, co-owner of Maccini Construction Co., made it to her office at 2919 United Founders Tower Blvd.
Since Nov. 10 — and until two days after Christmas — Walker is maintaining a second, volunteer job at the Salvation Army command post downtown on NW 5.
She's overseeing the multitude of volunteers who every morning count the loose change dropped this holiday season into the Army's 58 red kettles across Oklahoma County.
“This is my third year to volunteer as counting chair, and I feel responsible,” Walker said. “That's the way I am: If I say yes to something, I'm all in.”
Though her two sons and daughter are grown, Walker also serves as treasurer of the concession stand at Casady School, from which all three graduated.
Both nonprofit efforts provide her a way to get out in the community and see people, Walker said. “When you own your own small company, work is all you do,” she said.
Maccini Construction employs eight, and has some $9 million in annual revenues, she said.
Walker, 59, sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about her personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Can you tell us about your childhood?
A: I grew up in Peoria, Ill., which had a population of a couple hundred thousand; there was 660 in my senior class. My father, a sales manager for 7 Up Bottling Co., died of a heart attack when I was 13. It was the day after Christmas, and he'd only recently passed a clearance physical for a promotion at work.
After his death, my mother went to work for Dillard's, where she managed the hosiery department until six or nine most nights. I became a homemaker to my younger sister and older brother. That didn't leave much time for school activities. But I was a good student, a national merit scholar.
Q: Did your mom remarry?
A: Yes, four years later to my dad's boss and good friend, after a sudden heart attack claimed his wife. There were seven of us kids, ages 16 to 21, and even after our parents' deaths, we remain very close. I have a brother in Alaska, a sister in North Carolina, and the rest still are in Illinois. We all make an effort to get together every few years.
Q: And college?
A: I went to Illinois State University, where I majored in special education and minored in accounting. In high school, I'd volunteered at a blind school, and my plan was to teach blind students. I was touched when I realized many could see more without their sight than we sighted people could. But after I decided I didn't want to teach, and was told I'd have to live in a big metropolitan area to work in the diagnostics end of the field, I just quit college. I was 20 and thought I knew everything. I tried dental hygiene school, while working as a purchasing agent for the State of Illinois. But I didn't like that either.
Q: What brought you to Oklahoma?