Ronald Dean Wilkins, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, died Monday, December 11, 2000, Anno Domini. The son of Irene Hunter Wilkins and Guy Ernest Wilkins, he was born on September 16, 1931 in Enid, Oklahoma and passed away two months before he and his wife, Gloria Jeanne Wilkins, were to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
After earning the rank of Eagle Scout and before his graduation from Enid High School in 1949, Wilkins enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard. He served in the Korean Conflict in the 189th Artillery Battalion of the 45th “Thunderbird” Division. He married his high school sweetheart, Gloria Jeanne Paulk, in February 1951.
Upon his return from Japan, the couple moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma where he later earned his B.S. Engineering degree at Oklahoma State University, “Oklahoma A&M”.
In 1954, Wilkins began his 47-year career in the oilfield industry that includes numerous patents in the design and improvements of ball valves. As Vice President of Operations for W-K-M Bryan (Texas), he built and managed the plant that manufactured the high-pressure butterfly valve that he patented and designed. Ten of these years were involved with licensing, operations and management of manufacturing facilities across the Far East, Australia and the Former Soviet Union. After retirement from Cooper Industries, he consulted on numerous deepwater oil & gas exploration and development projects for McDermott and Stolt Offshore, Inc.
Following the Korean Conflict, Colonel Wilkins remained active in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1970, he was attached to Houston's 75th MAC, and led a number of regional maneuvers in North America, serving as Director/Command Controller of Combat Exercises. He was decorated with the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Award and was inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara prior to his retirement from the military in 1983. Upon his death, he was serving as the President of the 189th Field Artillery Association.
Colonel Wilkins is survived by his wife and four children: Timothy Wilkins, his wife Nancy Grinaker Wilkins, grandchildren Jennifer and Daniel Camp and Jeffrey of Sugar Land, Texas; Kelly Wilkins, his wife Laura, grandchildren Russell and Marissa Lorenz Wilkins, Lydia, Rebecca, Samuel, Stephen, Jonathan, Abigail, Daniel and Martha of Spring, Texas; Susan Wilkins Newell, her husband Michael, grandchildren David and Dianne of Austin, Texas; and Nancy Dianne Wilkins of Houston. Colonel Wilkins is also survived by his sister, Norma Garrett of Kansas City, Missouri and the John M. Wilkins family of Nash, Oklahoma. He is preceded in death by his mother, father and Uncle Neal Wilkins.
Ron was a member of the Christ United Methodist Church where a memorial celebration of his life was held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, December 15, 2000. Interment with full military honors will take place at Arlington National Cemetery
on January 3, 2001 at 1100 hours. In lieu of flowers, the family suggest donations to The Ronald D. Wilkins Memorial Trust, c/o Southern National Bank, 14060 Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land, Texas, 77478.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
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