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William Wilkins

Obituary for William Wilkins

October 6, 1942 - December 12, 2017
Westlake, Ohio | Age 75

Loving Husband, Father, Grandfather, Papa, Brother, Friend


William R. Wilkins, born on October 6, 1942 in Mansfield, OH to William and Bertha Mae (Nee Schwier) Wilkins, crossed the bar and into heaven on December 12, 2017.
A loyal son, loving husband, devoted father, and esteemed military officer, "Bill" grew up in humble beginnings in Shelby. Far from the ocean where he eventually created his legacy as a Coast Guard officer, he learned the value of hard work and loyalty in Ohio in addition to the reading, writing and arithmetic lessons garnered in the one-room schoolhouse of his youth. He was known to family and friends as exceedingly gracious, eminently reliable, and generous with his time or a kind word. He was the rock of his family; stable when the seas were rough yet comforting to those needing shelter.
It was during those early years, when Bill met Sharron (Nee Shank), the love of his life and wife of 52 years. When Bill left Ohio to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, Sharron was a frequent visitor and they were married after Bill graduated in 1964. Together, Bill and Sharron forged an eternal bond that was filled with laughter, strengthened with love during the long beach walks they cherished, and tested over decades of military moves. Their relationship, commenced in a small rural town, flourished with every move to another big city, and they made their final home in Westlake, OH.
Bill was a renowned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and the epitome of the Service's maritime heritage as a "cutterman". Over the course of his 30-year military career, Bill was the Commanding Officer of five different ships, the CAPE MORGAN, POINT PARTRIDGE, DECISIVE, CHASE, and HAMILTON. Commanding POINT PARTRIDGE during the Vietnam War, his crew patrolled the vast river system as part of Operation MARKET TIME to disrupt the movement of arms and supplies to Viet Cong forces. Despite the heights of his military achievements, Bill remained stoic and humble. After retiring, he continued his public service as the Director of the Board of Elections for Cuyahoga County, OH. Until his diagnosis he was a management consultant with Catalyst Consulting. He actively volunteered as a Director on the Board of United Church Homes, as an officer with the Shelby High School Alumni Association where he managed the fundraising efforts, as well as the Dover United Church of Christ.
Parkinson's disease ravaged his body but it never dimmed his intellect, spirit, or stubbornness to continue living his life to its full extent. Ultimately, he succumbed to pneumonia, peacefully and in his sleep, on 12 December 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents and grandson, Ryan Fedor.
Bill is survived by his wife Sharron and their daughters Amy and Julie. Amy, lives in Charleston, SC with husband Mark Fedor and their four children; Tyler, Will, Megan, and Drew. Julie, lives in Independence, OH, with husband Christopher Panichi and their three children; Jack, Maggie, and Jamie. Bill's brother Jim Wilkins of Jacksonville and sister Ann Wilkins of Oakland, CA all remained close despite the distances between them.
Bill carried many titles ranging from Captain, husband, father, brother, grandpa and "Papa" but his lasting legacy will be the quality of his life, the wisdom he shared, the adversity he overcame, and the lives he touched. Bill will be dearly missed by his family and friends but all will seek solace knowing he is in a better place and that we will continue to benefit from once walking alongside this great man. Fair winds Bill.
A Celebration of his life will be held at 10:30 am, January 6, 2018 at Dover United Church of Christ, 2239 Dover Center Rd, Westlake, OH 44145. Bill's family suggests, for those who wish, donations to National Parkinson's Foundation ( or Dover United Church of Christ.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • Dover United Church of Christ
    2239 Dover Center Rd
    Westlake, OH 44145

Arrangements By

Busch Funeral and Crematory Services

32000 Detroit Road
Avon, OH 44011
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