Joseph A. Walkes, Jr., was born in New York City on November 12, 1933 to Unitha Lawrence Walkes and Joseph A. Walkes, Sr., from St. Lucia, West Indies and Christianbol, Panama Canal Zone, respectively. His Grandfather, Cyril C. Walkes, was born in Barbados, West Indies, the paternal Walkes' home land.
He attended schools in New York City and later graduated from Park College, Parkville, Missouri with a BA degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1973, and retired at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He became an Administrative Assistant at the U. S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, retiring in December 1993.
Bro. Walkes was made a Master Mason on October 15, 1965 in Cecil A. Ellis Sr., Lodge No. 110, Karlsruhe, Germany, on the rolls of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland. He served as Master of the Lodge from 1966-1967, and later held membership in King Solomon Lodge No. 15, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He was an honorary member of Panama Canal Zone No. 175 and Amos Johnson Lodge No. 148, Kansas City, both Lodges on the rolls of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri, an honorary member of Mount Olive Lodge No. 3, Leavenworth on the rolls of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Kansas, and an honorary member of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina.
He served the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri as Editor of its official organ, The Masonic Light from 1968-1973. He was appointed Special D.D.G.M. (Military) for 1970-1973 and in this capacity assisted in the formation of Canal Zone Military Lodge No. 174 in Panama and Pythagoras Lodge No. 175 in Athens, Greece. He served as Special Deputy at Large and Ambassador of Good Will for the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri.
In 1966, Bro. Walkes was advanced to the 32nd degree in Prince Hall Military Consistory No. 304, Frankfurt, Germany and later held membership in Kansas City Consistory No. 7. He was elevated to honorary 33rd in Los Angeles, California in 1978, and was coronated an active Emeritus 33rd in 1982 by the United Supreme Council A.A.S.R., Southern Jurisdiction. He served that body as Editor of its official organ, The News Quarterly. He was also President of the Norris Wright Cuney Class of 1978.
He was a member of Allah Temple No. 6, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., Kansas City, Missouri and was an Honorary Past Potentate, receiving that honor in 1982. In 1985 he was appointed Imperial Historian of the Imperial Council of the Shrine, and in 1993 was honored by being named Honorary Past Imperial Potentate at the 100th Anniversary of the Shrine in New Orleans. He received its Legion of Honor Award in August 1996.
He was a Past Patron of Mary T. Allen Chapter No. 71 O.E.S., Karlsruhe, Germany, and also Past Patron of Fidelity Chapter No. 9 O.E.S. of Leavenworth, Kansas. He held membership in Celestial Chapter No. 102, O.E.S., Kansas City, Missouri. He was also a charter member of Bathsheba Chapter No. 14, O.E.S., Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He received the Amaranth Degree in Mary E. Douglas Amaranth Court No. 2, OES, Mannheim, Germany in 1966.
He was a member of George E. Jenkins Chapter No. 82, Holy Royal Arch Masons, located in Rougemont, North Carolina and a member of Turner Means Commandery No. 8, Knights Templar, also in North Carolina.
In 1973, he founded the Phylaxis Society, an international Masonic Research Society for Prince Hall Freemasons, of which he served as President for thirty years. He was made a Fellow of the Society on March 6, 1976, received its Certificate of Literature on March 6, 1979, and received the John G. Lewis, Jr. Medal of Excellence in 1980. In 1996 he founded the Scottish Rite Research Institute (PHA).
In 1984 he was made an honorary member of the Iowa Research Lodge No. 2, Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Iowa A.F. & A.M (Caucasian) and in 1994 he was made an Honorary Fellow for Life of the Philalethes Society (Caucasian). He was also a member of the Scottish Rite Institute (Caucasian).
Bro. Walkes is the author of The Documentary History of King Solomon Lodge No.15 (1971); Black Square & Compass: 200 Years of Prince Hall Freemasonry (1979); A Prince Hall Masonic Quiz Book (1983) (the first book ever written by a black Prince Hall Freemason and published by a white Masonic body, the Iowa Research Lodge). In 1984 he wrote John G. Lewis, Jr.—End of an Era: History of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana 1842-1979. In 1993 he wrote The History of the Shrine (Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Inc., Prince Hall Affiliated): A Pillar of Black Society. He also revised The Prince Hall Primer and The Prince Hall Digest by Harry A. Williamson, expected to be published soon. In 1994 he wrote The History of the Prince Hall Masonic Family in North Carolina, soon to be released. In 1995 he wrote, Prince Hall's Mission: The Rise of the Phylaxis Society, and in 1996 wrote History of The United Supreme Council, A.A.S.R., Northern Jurisdiction P.H.A., U.S.A.
He has written hundreds of Masonic articles that have appeared in numerous magazines around the world. In February 1997 he was named a Friar by the Society of Blue Friars, a society of Masonic authors, thus being the first Prince Hall Freemason to be appointed by this highly respected organization.
His hobbies are the study of genealogy (he traced his family history over six generations), Jazz, and collecting postage stamps of international African-Americans. He won the bronze award from the Mid-west Philatelic Association, Kansas City, Missouri for a display of his collection. He was a member of the American Topical Association and was past vice president of the Masonic Study Unit of the American Topical Association.
He taught Afrocentricity at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth. He was a member of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (Washington, D.C.) and a member of the Mormon History Association. Other interests were African-American History, Mormon History, photography, and the collection of books on African-American History and Mormon History. Walkes gathered one of the largest collections of books on Prince Hall Freemasonry in the world.
He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held the Priesthood therein. He spent his last days with his wife, Jeannette, in Leavenworth, Kansas. After a period of illness, he passed peacefully on Saturday, March 4th, 2006 just hours before the organizaiton he founded closed its thirty-third annual convention.