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In Memory of . . . John "Jack" Wilkinson, III (1928-2012)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Rev. John "Jack” Wilkinson, III died on October 22, 2012 at the age of 84.

Rev. Wilkinson was born in Syracuse, NY on July 24, 1928 to Mary Leavenworth (Van Duyn) Wilkinson and John Wilkinson, Jr. He attained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Miami in 1951. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War. Later, in 1964, he received a Bachelor of Divinity from St. Lawrence University Theological School.

Rev. Wilkinson was called to the Second Universalist Church of Weymouth, MA in 1964 (where he was also ordained on October 11, 1964) and served as the minister there until 1968. He was then called to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Chattanooga, TN from 1968-1976. Lastly, he served as interim minister at St. Paul’s Universalist Church in Little Falls, NY from 1989-1990. He retired from the ministry in 1990.

Rev. Wilkinson denominational activities included his work in 1965 on the Family Summer Institute Planning Committee in Ferry Beach, NH; his position as Chairman of the Religious Arts Committee for the Ballou-Channing District from; his work as an advisor to the Liberal Religious Youth Spring Conference in Lynn, MA; the position of Chairman of the Arts Committee for the Thomas Jefferson District from; and as Treasurer of the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association from. He also participated in the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, AL.

Rev. Wilkinson was a social activist who made a sincere investment in his communities by serving as President of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union; as a board member, member of the Executive Committee, and Treasurer of the Tennessee Civil Liberties Union; and as a member of the Religious Committee of the Chattanooga Bicentennial Commission.

Many people knew that Rev. Wilkinson was also an artist. He was actively involved in theatre throughout his life as an actor and playwright. He played roles in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Diary of Anne Frank, Death of a Salesman, and Blithe Spirit, to name just a few. He also conceived and developed a few one-man pieces containing the works of Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Frost, and Rudyard Kipling.

Known as a "guy with a heart of gold,” an acquaintance described Rev. Wilkinson as "direct, but sensitive in drawing individuals out…He could be a bit crusty in style, but it was apparent that he had a caring heart, an open mind, and a profound concern for justice.”

Rev. Wilkinson is survived by daughter, Heather Hope Wilkinson; son, John Wilkinson, IV; son, Wells Gilliam Wilkinson; sister, Hope Wilkinson Cushman; brother Edward Van Duyn Wilkinson; and grandchildren, Maretta Hope Dewitt and John Wilkinson, V.

A memorial service took place on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington, 619 Sixth Ave., Huntington, WV 25701.

Notes of condolence may be sent to John Wilkinson, IV at 1046 Monroe Ave., Huntington, WV 25704.

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