Eulogy for Robert E. Wilkinson

Lafayette Rotary, April 26, 2005

Bob Wilkinson, very proudly, was born a Hoosier in 1924 and died as one on April 3, 2005. He was a winner from the start, having been in the very first "class" (as he called it) of babies in a new hospital in Gary, Indiana. From his very beginning, he had an optimist outlook and his slant on life is mirrored in a sailor's quotation by William Arthur Wood: "The Pessimist complains about the wind; the Optimist expects it to change; the Realist adjusts the sails". That was Bob Wilkinson.

Bob was a proud Boilermaker, a member of Phi Kappa Psi. In WWII, he served with the 52nd Engineer Combat Battalion in the Pacific Theater. He married Helen Pope in 1947, returned to Lafayette in 1949, graduated from Purdue and joined the Rostone Corp. where he rose to become the Vice President for research and development. In 1974, he moved to Birmingham, Michigan. There he was a research engineer in the plastics division of The Budd Company. In that capacity, he had several significant patents relating to color and plastic fabrication used extensively in the automotive industry.

He and his lovely wife, Helen, raised three fine boys in a community of progressive and compatible families. Bob was active in his Presbyterian church and was a person who lived his faith. The Wilkinsons lived life to the fullest with special friends and good times and credible strokes on the golf course. The boys have become fine men, the result of their family life. Those of us who know them now are very impressed with their continued, devoted support to their parents, especially during those recent difficult days of Bob's life when he was undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

Bob and Helen returned to West Lafayette in 2003. That was "coming home" for Bob who was an avid Purdue supporter, a member of the John Purdue Club and a member of Rotary. They moved into Westminster Village where they were friends with everyone. We can still hear his Bob's resonant voice calling out, "Hi neighbor!" and his positive characterization of how he felt by replying, "Super, just super.".

Perhaps this quote says it best about Bob Wilkinson and his positive outlook on life. It is from his memorial service,

"Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much &emdash;
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch."

John Osmun