James Kevin Wilkins, 43, transitioned peacefully at home Wednesday, July 31, 2013, after being diagnosed with parotid gland cancer in October 2012.
Kevin was born in Henderson, N.C., on May 29, 1970, to Jimmy and Sheila Wilkins. He attended North Carolina State University and graduated in 1992 with a B.S. degree in geology. He worked for the North Carolina Department of Transportation and then went back to NCSU for an engineering degree. He completed his M.S. in civil engineering in 2002 and his Ph.D. in structural engineering in 2009 under the direction of Dr. Vernon Matzen.
While completing his doctoral degree, he taught a reinforced concrete course for four years. He was a gifted teacher whose passion for structural engineering was evident to all of his students.
While at NC State, he met his wife, Renee Howard. They married in 2005 in Ashe County, N.C., and spent several wonderful years together exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
After Kevin completed his studies, he accepted a position with Idaho National Laboratory and they set off for the Western leg of their adventure. Kevin loved living in Idaho and exploring Yellowstone, the Tetons and all parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. He was always accompanied by Renee and often by his faithful companion, a Newfoundland retriever mix named Bear.
Kevin is survived by his wife, Renee Howard; his parents, Jimmy and Sheila Wilkins of Raleigh, N.C.; a sister, Kim Stewart and her husband, Mark; and his nephews, Joseph and David Stewart, all of Raleigh, N.C.
No memorial service is planned in Idaho Falls. A celebration of Kevin's life will be held for family and friends from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at his parents' home, 4027 Vesta Drive in Raleigh. Kevin loved being in the outdoors, and some of his cremains will be scattered in his favorite hiking spots.
The family would like to thank Dr. Dane Dickson, Jed Bartschi and all of the staff of Teton Cancer Institute for their excellent care. They would also like to thank Sherri Jackson of Avalon Hospice, the staff at the Cancer Center where Kevin received radiation treatments, and Dr. Daniel Hinckley.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Yellowstone Association, P.O. Box 117, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, or www.yellowstoneassociation.org; or to the Adam Yauch Foundation at www .adamyauchfoundation .org.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.woodfuneralhome.com.
"Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight." -- Rossiter W. Raymond