May 17, 2010
RICHARD FRANKLIN WILKINSON
Col. Richard Franklin Wilkinson, U.S. Army (Retired), 89, died on May 14, 2010.
Born on Feb. 4, 1921, in Toano, Va., he lived the last 42 years of his life in Williamsburg, Va. He was the oldest son of Roscoe Franklin Wilkinson and Jesse Bell Wilkinson.
He grew up in Toano and graduated from Toano High School. Upon graduation from VPI (Virginia Tech) in 1942, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and assigned to the 133rd Regiment, 34th Division. Known as the ‘Red Bull’ Division, the 34th Infantry had more combat days than any other U.S. Army Division in World War II. As a company commander, he and his company were in combat during most of the North African and Italian military campaigns. He was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart Medal. Later in retirement, he wrote about his wartime experiences in an autobiographical narrative, ‘Battles of Company C of the133rd Infantry Regiment.’
After World War II, he married his childhood sweetheart Margaret Jane Walton from Martinsville, Va. He briefly did graduate work at VPI until 1946, when he rejoined the U.S. Army. For the next 26 years, he served the U.S. Army in a variety of assignments around the world. Among his career highlights, he was an advisor to the National Chinese Army in Taiwan during the Korean War, a military instructor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Executive Officer for the 6th Infantry (battle group) in Berlin 1959-1960, and had three different liaison assignments, including the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam Conflict and joint Army-Navy-Air Force Unified Commands.
After he retired, he served as the chairman of the York County Industrial Development Authority from 1981-1990. For more than 40 years, he was a member of Hickory Neck Episcopal Church and served as a vestry member and as a Trustee. He and his brother, ‘Press’ Wilkinson, successfully developed several tracts of commercial land in the greater Williamsburg area. A generous man throughout his life, he supported many worthy causes such as the YMCA, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, and the Thomas P. Wilkinson Home in Blue Ridge, Va., a residence for adults with intellectual disabilities. His son, Tommy, was the joy of his life and his ‘buddy.’ He was also a member of Crown Colony Club, the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, and The Arc of Greater Williamsburg.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of 64 years, Margaret Walton Wilkinson; and his brother, Howard Preston Wilkinson.
He is survived by his children, Richard Franklin Wilkinson Jr. and wife, Kate, of Longview, Texas, Jane Rice Wilkinson Raish and husband, Steve, of Allen, Texas, Thomas Preston Wilkinson, of Blue Ridge, Va., and Nancy Bell Wilkinson Shafer, of Toano, Va.; five grandchildren, Ellen Bellamy Wilkinson Maxwell and husband, John, of Culpeper, Va., Richard Taliaferro Wilkinson and wife, Jessica, of Fort Worth, Texas, John Franklin Raish and wife, Adrienne, of Frisco, Texas, Sarah Jane Raish Kates and husband, Scott, of Jacksonville, N.C., and Ashby Walton Shafer of Toano, Va.; and seven great-grandchildren, Catherine deRosset Maxwell, Elizabeth Waite Maxwell, Margaret Anne Wilkinson, John Franklin Raish II, Richard Austin Raish, Meghan Christine Raish, and Samuel Robert Kates. He is also survived by two sisters-in-law and numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great- nieces.
The family wants to give special thanks to the selfless caregivers that helped their father during the past several years: Kathy Palmer, Brian Gregory, and Sharon Cole, and to recognize the assistance of Sarah Darling and the services provided by Sentara Hospice.
The family will receive friends on Wednesday, May 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Rd., Williamsburg, Va. A funeral service and burial will be held on Thursday, May 20, at 11 a.m. at Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, 8300 Richmond Road, Toano, Va.
Memorial donations may be made to Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Scholarship Fund, 143 Brodie Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 and the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA, 301 Sentara Circle, Williamsburg, VA 23188.
Online condolences may be offered at http://www.nelsencares.com.