Winona Franklin Walker was born in South Boston, Virginia, on 9 August 1908, the oldest of seven children. After graduating from Harrisonburg State Teachers College, she taught English and history for three years. Walker then attended library school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 1935.
Walker worked as a librarian at a high school in Shelby, North Carolina, for eight years. In 1943, she took a civilian job at the post hospital library at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Two years later, she was approached by the Army Special Services for an overseas librarian assignment, which she accepted. On 18 August 1945, Walker left New York City for Europe.
After arriving in Paris, France, for a week of training, she went to Oberammergau, Germany, for an additional week's training. Walker first served in the Bremen Enclave as command librarian where she was responsible for the setting up, staffing, and supervising of several libraries in the enclave, as well as a bookmobile. She also traveled extensively to Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Walker returned to the United States in October 1946 and worked briefly in Kecoughtan, Virginia; Greenwood, South Carolina; and High Point, North Carolina. She was then hired by the Greensboro, North Carolina, school district and worked at four school libraries throughout the city until retiring in 1973.