Chattanooga Remembers Retired Police Sgt. Walter Maples, 93

Sergeant Walter Maples

By Camm Ashford 

A lying-in state ceremony for retired Chattanooga Police Sergeant Walter Maples Jr. was held Wednesday, July 27, from 12:30-5 p.m. at Taylor Funeral Home, 3417 Wilcox Blvd.

On July 28, a memorial service was held, noon-1:30 p.m., at Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church, 1734 East 3rd St. Burial to follow at Chattanooga National Cemetery, 1200 Bailey Ave.

Sgt. Maples, 93, died after being involved in a two-vehicle crash on Shallowford Road last Wednesday, July 20, a little after 6:30 p.m.

Napoleon “Doughnut” Williams, the first African American in the Chattanooga Police Department’s history to achieve the rank of detective, said he worked with Mr. Maples in 1964 when Maples “was over the midnight jail as sergeant.”

Mr. Williams said he and Sgt. Maples were assigned to the same walking beat surrounding East and West 9th streets in the early ‘60s. And, over the years, they often patrolled together in Police Car 12 which served Alton Park and Orchard Knob.

“Maples lived in Alton Park, so he knew Alton Park,” Mr. Williams said. “I knew Alton Park, too, but not like he did. Whenever I got in the car with him, he always told me that I would have to drive. Once we got a call and I was going to pick up the mic to answer, and he told me, ‘you let me handle that.’ He wouldn’t let me touch that radio.”

Maples, far right, with fellow officers in segregated break room they could only use after departure of white officers.

A few months before Sgt. Maples was hired, Mr. Williams said he and the other six African American police officers on the city’s force still weren’t allowed to arrest whites. But Chattanooga Fire and Police Commissioner James “Bookie” Turner changed all that.

“Sgt. Maples and the other black officers Bookie Turner hired were educated and we turned that thing around,” Mr. Williams recalled. “There came a change in tradition. It was a new day. We made Chattanooga proud.”

Mr. Williams remembered his friend Sgt. Maples as a “sharp” dresser. “He always dressed nice, both on duty and off duty.” 

Mr. Williams said he last saw Sgt. Maples in August 2021, when Maple’s daughter-in-law hosted a drive-through birthday party for him.

“It’s sad that he’s gone,” Mr. Williams said. “He was a super guy, and I’m honored that I had a chance to work with him.”

Mr. Maples played football in high school as well as at A&M University. He was a veteran of the United States Army, and was a faithful member of Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church where he sang in the Male Chorus and retired as a Trustee after many years of service. 

Mr. Maples retired in 1982 with a rank of sergeant after 25 years of service with the Chattanooga Police Department. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Georgia Mae Maples, Sr.; daughter, Valerie Maples Roush; and sister, Mary Ellis Maples. Survivors include his devoted wife of 28 years, Marie Maples; sons, Walter (Brenda) Maples, III, Gregory Maples, Anthony Maples, Larry Fuqua, Carlos Crutcher, and Ronnie Jones, all of Chattanooga; stepchildren, Sephena A. Jordan, Myra J. Gordon, Janice J. (Jerome) Parham, and Albert F. Jordan, Jr.; a host of 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchild; nieces; nephews; cousins; other relatives and friends.