DONALD 'DON' WILKINS
DONALD 'DON' WILKINS
Donald "Don" Harry Wilkins, 87, of Park Rapids, died Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at his home in Park Rapids.
Don Wilkins grew up in northern Minnesota and graduated from Park Rapids High School in 1944. He received a Bachelor of Science from Hamline University in St. Paul in 1948, with majors in chemistry, physics and mathematics. At Hamline he was the recipient of the Batchhelder Memorial Fellowship in Chemistry awarded to the outstanding senior chemistry major.
He was employed by Lerch Brothers Inc. on the Messabi Iron Range for two and one-half years as an analytical chemist.
In 1951, he returned to school and received a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana under the direction of G.F. Smith. During his graduate studies he was a staff member and taught several courses in the Analytical Chemistry Department. At the University of Illinois he was the recipient of the Fifth Annual Merck Graduate Fellowship in Analytical Chemistry. This fellowship which was sponsored by the Merck Chemical Company was awarded annually in a national open competition to one graduate student majoring in analytical chemistry in the U.S.
After completion of his thesis work and post doctorate study at the University of Illinois, he accepted employment in 1954 at the General Electric Company's central Research Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y. where he remained until retirement in 1987. At the Research Laboratory he managed a laboratory for the analysis of inorganic and organic materials and served as a consultant to other chemical laboratories in the General Electric Company. He also developed and managed a laboratory for the preparation of high purity materials, unusual inorganic compounds, intermetallic compounds, and single crystals. He was the technical representative for the General Electric Company at the first technical conferences concerned with the dispersal of mercury in the environment in 1974. He also was the lead analytical chemist when the distribution of polychlorinated biphenyls in the environment became an issue.
During his tenure at General Electric he published over forty research papers and obtained the basic patent for the manufacture of the super conducting wire used in medical magnetic imaging instrumentation.
Don was active professionally in the American Chemical Society (ACS) during his industrial career. He was elected by his peers to national office's as Secretary, Treasurer, Program Chairman, Chairman-elect, and Chairman of the Division of Analytical Chemistry as well as Program Chairman for the Summer Symposia of that division of the ACS. He was Chairman of the Canvassing Committee for the ACS award in Chromatography and Electrophoresis. He has served on the editorial advisory board of one national journal "Analytical Chemistry" and one international technical journal "Talanta." He has been an invited speaker at the Pittsburgh Conference, the Analytical Gordon Conference and the Inorganic Gordon Conference as well as national ACS meetings. He was a member of the ACS Analytical Reagents Committee until his retirement.
Since retirement in 1987 he has been a consultant in analytical and environmental chemistry. Recently he has been taking computer courses and tutoring chemistry courses at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
He has been a bird bander licensed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1960. He has been conducting research on cavity nesting birds for over 55 years and has published extensively on Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Martins. More recently his purple martin colony of over 100 nesting martins has been the largest' martin colony in Minnesota.
He is survived by his wife and best friend for the past 26 years, Monika; brother, Dave (Jean); his three children, Melinda (Marc) Howard, Keith (Chris) Wilkins, and Mike Wilkins; two grandchildren, Grace Hunkins and Sean Wilkins; nephew, Dale Wilkins; niece, Nancy Wilkins; five stepchildren, Michael (Gloria) Hokanson of Granville, Texas, Valerie Bedsted of Rochester, Toni Heard of Plainview, Gregory (Amy) Hokanson of Shoreview, Monica Gamble of Akeley; 14 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by both parents, Harry and Caroline Wilkins; first wife, Sharon; and sister, Dorothy.
No formal funeral services will be held at this time, a celebration of life service will be held at a later date.
His family suggests memorials may be given to the Park Rapids Area Hospice in lieu of flowers.
Cease Family Funeral Home of Park Rapids is handling the arrangements. Friends may leave online condolences at ceasefuneralhome.com.