Dale H. "Pop" Wilkins Sr., husband of the late Mary L. Wilkins, died peacefully on May 3, 2012, at his son's home in
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Mechanicsville, Va., surrounded by his family.
He is survived by five children and their spouses, Dale Junior and wife, Cynthia (Homosassa, Fla.), Debbie King and husband, Jimmy (Homosassa, Fla.), Danny and wife, Karla (Merritt Island, Fla.), Henry "Hootie" and wife, Brooke (Washington, D.C.) and David and wife, Brenda (Mechanicsville, Va.); as well as his sister, Lois Vankrevelin (Muskegon, Mich.); 15 grandchildren, including Danny Patrick Wilkins and Austin Shane Wilkins who preceded him in death; and 13 great-grandchildren. Beyond his blood relatives, over the years he was the surrogate father and brother - "Pop" - to many dear friends.
Dale was born Jan. 12, 1930, in Hill City, Minn., on the farm where he was raised. His time on the farm engendered his lifelong love for animals and the great outdoors. But the true love of his life was his wife, Mary, whom he married on July 30, 1949. They shared 61 years of happiness, humor and good times until her death in 2010.
Throughout their life together, Dale and Mary traveled the world. During his proud 12-year career in the U.S. Air Force, he was stationed in Landstulh and Ramstein, Germany, with tours of duty as an aviation radio operator that spanned Europe and Africa. He held the rank of staff sergeant when he separated from service in 1958 at the Westhampton Air Force Base in Long Island, N.Y. They settled on Long Island for more than a dozen years, as Dale became a member of the Teamsters Union local 138 in New York and worked as a heavy equipment operator. He was a key builder of the Port Royal Motel in Montauk, N.Y., in 1971 and operated Dale's American Station in Sag Harbor, N.Y., before moving to Homosassa, Fla., in 1972 where he resided for 40 years until his death. There he worked as a heavy equipment operator for Arnold and Son Construction for more than 10 years before joining Numanco Corporation in Virginia as a decontamination technician in the nuclear industry - a job that took them all over the United States.
A private memorial service was held May 4, 2012, at his son's home in Mechanicsville, Va. The family will hold a reception at his home in Homosassa, Fla., to celebrate his life at a later date. The family will post the information publically prior to the event.
Published in Citrus County Chronicle on May 8, 2012