Former Lodge Chief Honored with BSA’s Highest Award

Matt Walker received the Silver Buffalo during the BSA's 2012 National Meeting on June 1st (BSA File Photo)

In 1971 the Dallas Cowboys played in Super Bowl XII at the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL.  The Apollo 14 Spacecraft would land on the Moon, a new stock market index referred to as the NASDQ would debut, Evel Knievel set a world record by jumping 19 cars in Ontario, California, The Fight of the Century- Boxer Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden, President Richard Nixon declares a U.S. War on Drugs, Southwest Airlines, a low cost carrier, begins flights between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, FL, The George W. Pirtle Scout Reservations was a mere 8 years old with F.M. Arnold as the Camp Director, the Order of the Arrow had just celebrated their 60th Anniversary and Matt Walker, of Tyler’s Austin Rose District had just been elected Chief of Tejas Lodge. On June 1, 2012 after being registered in the Boy Scouts of America for over 50 years Matt became only the second East Texan, after George W. Pirtle and the first Tejas Lodge Chief, to receive Scouting’s Highest Honor for Service to youth-The Silver Buffalo.

Originally from Tyler, Matt joined B.S.A. Cub Scouts in April 1960 in Longview and ended up in Troop 344 in Tyler sponsored by the Glenwood Methodist Church where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1967, served on Staff at The George W. Pirtle Scout Reservation in 1968 and 1969, and later was awarded the Vigil Honor by the Tejas Lodge.

In 1971, Matt served as the Chief of Tejas Lodge and would later go on to serve as the Area (now Section) #9B Chief which would begin a tenure of service to Scouting that was almost unparalleled.  Upon graduation from the University of Texas at Austin, with a degree in Finance, Matt entered the Banking Industry in Austin, TX and became active in the B.S.A.’s Capital Area Council, later serving as its Council Commissioner, as President of the Austin Jaycee’s where he led the Austin Jaycees to be the number one chapter in the nation.  He also served as Associate Section Adviser to legendary National OA Committeeman Dabney Kennedy.    For his contributions to Scouting, the Order and Community the Capital Area Council awarded Matt with the Silver Beaver Award in 1988.

Matt and his family soon found themselves with a new address, this time, Dallas, TX home of the Circle Ten Area Council and the Mikanakawa Lodge after joining International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) as a Consulting level Channel Sales Manager for Rational Software in the Software Division.  Upon joining Circle 10 Council, he became an active member of their Council Camping Committee as Chairman of their Camp Program sub-Committee, and working with the former South Central Section II as Section Adviser where he advised both former Tejas Lodge Chief Kevin Mefford and later National OA Vice Chief, H. Blair Dickens.    After his service as Section II OA Adviser he would go on to succeed Mr. E.L. “Bo” Brogdon as the Region OA Chairman of the new, Southern Region.

In 1992, along with another Tejas Lodge Chief (Kevin Mefford) Matt was awarded the Order of the Arrow’s National Distinguished Service Award.  As Region OA Chairman, he would oversee key Regional OA initiatives including the new NLS, NLATS and the One Day of Service Program and in 1996 would be awarded the B.S.A.’s Silver Antelope Award.  He served two years as National Vice Chairman of Program for the National OA Committee and in 1997 upon the retirement of Dabney Kennedy as National OA Vice Chairman of National Events Matt was named the successor-in this role he would go on to Chair 8 National Events, including 4 National Conferences, 3 National Jamborees as OA Chairman, the OA National Summit, the first Indian Summer and was a key member in the launch of the ArrowCorps5 program.  He served as Incident Commander or Chairman of the Mark Twain project removing 134 acres of Eastern Red Cedar which the US Forest Service considered an invasive species and asked the OA to remove to restore the natural Glade.  As a result of these contributions he was awarded the, Gold Hornaday Award in 2009 for his work at the 2008 ArrowCorps5 Mark Twain project.  He also served as Incident Commander of the 4th and final week of SummitCorp project in West Virginia building 13 miles of mountain biking trails in the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia adjacent to the new Boy Scout High Adventure Base “the Bechtol Summit.”

Today, Matt is currently serving his third year as Council Commissioner of the Circle Ten Council, the 6th largest council in the B.S.A. and has held memberships on the B.S.A.’s Southern Region Boy Scout Executive Board and the National OA Committee since 1992.

Matt has been married to his wife, Geogianne for 31 years.  Together, they have 3 children, a daughter and 2 sons, who both made Eagle Scout.

The Silver Buffalo Award is the national-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. It is presented for noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth on a national basis, either as part of, or independent of the Scouting program. The award is made by the National Court of Honor

The concept of the Silver Buffalo is based on the Silver Wolf Award of the Boy Scout Association.  During the first presentation in 1926, twenty-two awards were presented in a particular order determined by Chief Scout Executive James E. West. Since then, the awards have been presented on an annual basis in alphabetical order.

The first Silver Buffalo Award was conferred upon Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement and Chief Scout of the World.  The second went to the Unknown Scout who inspired William D. Boyce to form the BSA.

As of 2011, 695 people have been presented the award, including 14 presidents of the United States, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and James Lovell, General Colin Powell, Yogi Berra, Archie Manning, Walt Disney, Hank Aaron, and many other distinguished businessmen, politicians and world leaders.

This article was written by John Berry, former Tejas Lodge Chief and 1996 Southern Region Chief.
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One thought on “Former Lodge Chief Honored with BSA’s Highest Award

  1. I knew Matt Walker when I was with Explorer Post 373 in Tyler. He was a very friendly fellow, always made me feel welcome. Congratulations Matt, for a well-deserved honor!
    Gerald Fitzgerald

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