Ronda McCaul Walker
Citizen of the Year – Government
By Darlene Hutchinson Biehl
Photography By Maria Wiggins
It wasn’t long after Ronda McCaul Walker earned her bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Troy University that she heard about a job opening in Senator Richard Shelby’s office in Washington, DC. Soon, the job was hers, and the courageous 22-year-old Montgomery resident relocated to the big city. Courage has been a frequent theme in the life of this spirited lady. She stayed there about three years and, among other assignments, she coordinated the senator’s intern program. It was through this program that she met a college student named Martha. Years later Martha would win election as Congresswoman for the 2nd Congressional District, and Ronda would join Rep. Roby’s team as a field rep – at least until June 2014 when Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Mrs. Walker to the Montgomery County Commission for District 3. “I love the opportunity to be in public service,” Ronda says. “This is my platform to bring glory to God and to edify people.”
For her many accomplishments, Ronda McCaul Walker has been chosen as River Region Living’s “citizen of the year” in the field of government. Ronda says she never would have mapped out the path her life has taken, but sometimes “preparation meets opportunity.”
“You build relationships, you work hard, and you prepare yourself intellectually and spiritually,” and then you see what path God takes you down, she says. “I really don’t worry about the future, and I’m thankful God has provided some remarkable opportunities.” The commissioner relies on a favorite verse from Ephesians: “Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Early in life, there were signs that Ronda was a problem-solver and a leader. While in 9th Grade at Capital Heights Jr. High, students began grumbling about the awful food in the school lunchroom, but Ronda is a go-getter who puts words into action. She spearheaded a two-week lunchroom boycott and students began bringing brown-bag lunches. The local TV news stations even covered the unrest, and she ended up addressing the Board of Education about the subject. Eventually there was positive change, but she learned a lot too about “going through the proper channels.”
Ronda often describes her first 38 years as “perfect.”
“No, really, it was.” Then she elaborates, “A fun childhood filled with doting parents, playing softball, church trips, lots of friends.” After graduating Lee High School in 1990, she thrived in college at Troy, and at her job in Washington, DC. In 2000 she moved to Hawaii to pursue a master’s degree; she was determined to avoid college debt and miraculously a scholarship came through at the last minute. Ronda graduated in December 2002, and returned to Montgomery where she met her husband Jason a few months later. They married in 2004, creating an instant family with Jason’s young sons, Grant and Hugh. Before long Margaret and Eli were born, and it was a perfect life. “My parents were always my biggest cheerleaders,” she recalls.
Then tragedy hit. In 2010, her precious mother died at the age of 65, just three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She had beaten breast cancer a few years earlier. “My perfect life came to a bitter end,” Ronda remembers. The grief was overwhelming,
Then at age 42, Ronda was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer shortly before Christmas 2014. Now serving as a county commissioner, her year-long fight and daily struggles became very public, yet she handled the turmoil with grace, faith and transparency, often sharing honest Facebook posts that undoubtedly reassured others experiencing various struggles. “The physical battle is only eclipsed by the mental and emotional war,” she noted in her blog in May 2015. She even had her head shaved on the 6 p.m. news. “I saw the impact it had on lives,” Commissioner Walker notes. “This can destroy you or empower you. I looked death in the eye, but God has given me today.” And she is cancer-free now.
As a result, she chooses to live intentionally, and she always places her family first. “I love living in the River Region. Montgomery is the perfect-size city and is so family-friendly.” Plus her family loves the recreation of the lake, and the entertainment opportunities at Shakespeare, MPAC and Biscuits baseball. “I’ve lived in big cities, and I wouldn’t want to raise my kids in a metro area.”
Addressing a group of Troy graduates in May 2016, Ronda made reference to the Trojan warrior: “Even the toughest warrior will struggle in the midst of battles. The question is not will you struggle, but how you will handle that struggle? A warrior is persistent, and a warrior learns, grows and improves through each battle.”