Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home, Inc. - Springfield
1947 East Seminole Street
Springfield, MO 65804
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John R. Wilkinson

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John R. Wilkinson Obituary
John R. Wilkinson

Back Together Again

John Richard Wilkinson, 67, passed away in his home on Friday, January 11, 2013, surrounded by family and friends, after a long battle with cancer. John was born on July 3, 1945 to parents Dr. Richard and Virginia Wilkinson. He grew up in Springfield, where he attended Greenwood Laboratory School. John was drawn to music very early. At the age of 10, he famously sneaked into Elvis Presley's dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, telling Elvis, "you can't play guitar worth a damn." Elvis was amused and impressed with this kid and predicted they would meet again. They did. After playing in a high school band with his classmates called, "The Coachmen," John went on to make a name for himself as a folk and country singer and guitar player. He traveled around the country playing with such groups as The Kingston Trio, The Goodtime Singers, Greenwood County Singers, and The New Christy Minstrels. John and Elvis met again in 1968, when the King of Rock 'n' Roll invited John to join his band. John played over 1,200 shows as Elvis' rhythm guitar player, right up until The King's death in 1977. After that he played less music, and made a living in retail and airline services management. He married his wife, Terry, in 1983. A serious stroke in 1989 left him unable to play the guitar. Nevertheless, for several years after that, he traveled the U.S. and Europe, appearing with the old TCB band and others, singing and paying tribute to Elvis. He was proud of the fact that he never turned down a request for an autograph. Despite his amazing musicianship, the incredible places he got to visit, and his entertaining stories of meeting famous people, the most remarkable thing about John was his kindness. It didn't matter if he was meeting adoring fans, joking with Chuck Berry about keeping his B-string in tune, or if he was talking to a neighbor about her dog, people were people to him. Folks were folks. John would look you square in the eye and accept you, just as you were. There was nothing phony about him. He will be deeply missed. John was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Terry. The family would like to thank Mercy Hospital, Elfindale Manor, Barnes Hospital, and all the nurses and doctors who have been such great help the last four years. Cremation and a private graveside service will be conducted by Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the , the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, or the charity of donor's choice.

Published in the News-Leader on Jan. 13, 2013
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