Bill Wilkins entered Shelby High School as a freshman in 1956 after his father, legendary Shelby football coach Bill Wilkins, moved the family from Mansfield to the red house in Ganges, Ohio. While at SHS Bill played football, served on Student Council, the Jr. Class Executive Committee and as business manager of the 1960 Scarlet S. upon graduation, he earned the American Legion’s Citizenship Award .
Bill then competed with 7,500 other young men nationwide for one of 340 appointments to the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He completed the rigorous academic and physical program to earn his bachelor of science degree, with honors, in engineering as one of the 135 graduates of the Class of 1964. He lettered three years as starting end on coach Otto Graham’s football team, which went undefeated in 1963 and played in the Tangerine Bowl. Bill went on to earn a master of public administration degree in 1971 at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Bill’s 30-yr Coast Guard career included key assignments in recruiting, maritime environmental protection, drug law enforcement and search and rescue operations. He commanded a patrol gunboat in the rivers of South Vietnam and three large ships operating on the forefront of the United States war on drugs in the Caribbean, seizing more than 120 tons of illegal drugs. Bill rose to the rank of captain and finished his Coast Guard career in 1994 as chief of staff of the Coast Guard’s Ninth District encompassing all five of the Great Lakes.
Bill served for five years as director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, then the seventh largest in the country with more than 1,000,000 registered voters. For the past eleven years Bill has been affiliated with the Catalyst Consulting Group in Cleveland where he focuses on helping companies and government agencies better prepare promising young professionals to assume management positions.
Throughout his career Bill has been active in community service, having been past board chairman of Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland and moderator of Dover UCC Church in Westlake, Ohio. He currently serves on the board of directors of United Church Homes, a non-profit elder care company that operates nine nursing homes and 50 housing communities serving over 3,500 elderly throughout the mid-west.
In 2006 Bill conceived and chaired the Alumni Association’s campaign that raised $165,000 for the 2010 renovation of the four science laboratories at SHS and dedication as the Harryet Snyder Memorial Science Center. Bill took on this project to help ensure that today’s graduates have the same types of career opportunities that graduates of his era enjoyed, and to honor Miss Snyder whom he cites as his most inspirational teacher. He currently serves as vice president of the Alumni Association.
Bill is married to Sharron Shank Wilkins ’61 and they live in the Cleveland suburb of Westlake. Their two daughters Amy and Julie have given them seven grandchildren.
Presenter: Dave Spangler ’66, Nominator: Dave Spangler ’66.