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Kenneth Earl Wilkes

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Kenneth Earl Wilkes Obituary
Wilkes Dr. Kenneth Earl "Kenny" Wilkes, age 68, of Knoxville, Tennessee, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, passed away Wednesday evening, March 13, 2013 at his home. He was born on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) in Huntington, West Virginia, the son of Earl M. Wilkes and the former Nevada Dickerson. He was raised in Huntington and graduated from Vinson High School, where he was Valedictorian and President of his senior class, Lieutenant Governor of the state Key Club, and earned varsity letters in track and as manager of the football team. He attended Duke University on academic scholarships, where he earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, graduated with distinction, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi national honorary societies, participated in student government, and earned varsity letters as manager of two intercollegiate sports teams. He earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in condensed matter physics from The Ohio State University. He worked as a research engineer-physicist at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak, Maryland, Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, Owens-Corning Fiberglas in Granville, Ohio, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He retired in 2006 from ORNL as a Distinguished R&D Staff Member. He was an international expert on thermophysics and was a fellow of two international scientific organizations. After retirement, he was active in the Tennessee State Guard, attaining the rank of Major, and serving as Adjutant for the Third Regiment which serves East Tennessee. He was also Docent for the Farragut Folk Life Museum. He was preceded in death by his father Earl Wilkes. Kenny is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Rose; son, Dr. David Wilkes and daughter-in-law, Dr. Vidya Rajagopalan of Granger, Indiana; daughter, Suzanne Wilkes-Portante and son-in-law, Gerald Portante of Littleton, Massachusetts; granddaughters, Elizabeth, Cecilia, and Isabella Portante of Littleton, Massachusetts, and Aashna Wilkes of Granger, Indiana; mother, Nevada Kilgore of Huntington, West Virginia; brother, Ernest Wilkes and sister-in-law, Patricia of Jacksonville, Florida; several nieces and nephews. He was a member of Concord United Methodist Church. He recently developed a passion for genealogy and through his research was accepted into the General Society of Mayflower Descendents and the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution. He was a wonderful and patient husband, father and grandfather. He lived a life of grace and left the world a better place for being a part of it. With his kindness, humor, and ready smile, he touched so many people. We will miss him greatly but know that the joy he gave us will live forever in our hearts. The family will receive friends from 2-3:45 p.m. on Sunday followed by a Celebration of Life at 4 p.m. at Concord United Methodist Church, 11020 Roane Drive, Farragut with Rev. Brent Hall officiating. The family will also receive friends from 10-11 a.m. on Tuesday at Reger Funeral Home, 1242 Adams Avenue, Huntington, West Virginia with Rev. Phillip Warren officiating. Interment will follow in the Woodmere Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to www.kidney.org or the Concord United Methodist Church, www.concordumc.com. CLICK FUNERAL HOME FARRAGUT CHAPEL, 11915 Kingston Pike is serving the Wilkes family. www.clickfh.com
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Mar. 15, 2013
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