More Obituaries for Donald Wilkinson
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?

Donald Phillips Wilkinson

Obituary Condolences

Donald Phillips Wilkinson Obituary
Groton - Donald Phillips Wilkinson, 54, known affectionately as "Donzo", died on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, in a sailing accident while racing in Fishers Island Sound.

In addition to great friends, he leaves his wife of 17 years, Anne (Hohenstein) Wilkinson and his children, Benjamin and Sarah, both students at Fishers Island School. He is dearly missed by his parents, Robert and Jeanne (Phillips) Wilkinson of Noank; his brother, Alan Wilkinson of Canterbury;, and his sister, Sheryl and husband, Tom Clukey, of New Gloucester, Maine. He also leaves his in-laws, Toby and George Hohenstein of Groton and George Town, Exuma, Bahamas; as well as his sister and brother-in-law, Cynthia and Andrew Davis and his two nieces, Ashley and Allison Davis of Sutton, Mass. The family cat, Harley, will also miss him greatly.

Donzo was born in Kingston, N.Y. on Feb. 12, 1956, and shortly thereafter moved to Noank with his family. He graduated from Fitch High School in 1974. He had a passion for sailing and boatbuilding. He started by building a Blue Jay with his father and working at Formula Yachts building Evelyn boats. He supervised the construction of Fujimo in Australia and the rebuilding of Prophet with his family and friends in their backyard. He was a perfectionist and master at finding new ways to improve boat speed

He was a member of Ram Island Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, Baldwin Yacht Club, Off Soundings Club, a founder and two time commodore of the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

For over a decade, he enjoyed life as a licensed yacht captain, racing at an elite level at regattas throughout the world. In the early 1990s, he came home to Noank and began a new chapter working for Lewmar Marine in sales and service for large custom yachts including America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Racers, and other innovative boats including PlayStation. In recent years, he founded Northeast Storm Protection which provided hurricane protection products for homes and businesses.

Sailing, family, and friends were his life. There were always lots of stories to tell. He raced with incredible friends in the Miami-Nassau, Admiral's Cup, Fastnet, Big Boat series on San Francisco Bay, Newport to Bermuda, Block Island and Key West Race Weeks, Antiqua, Off Soundings, and the Fifty Foot World Cup in Japan, among others.

He enjoyed summer cruises with his family to Block Island, Newport, Cuttyhunk, and the Vineyard. He loved vacationing off George Town, Exuma, Bahamas and quiet nights aboard Sirena on the mooring at Fishers Island. Other memorable events included New York YC cruises, delivering the yacht Shadow from Florida to Hawaii through the Panama Canal, and trips through the Erie Barge Canal aboard Fujimo.

He fostered his son Ben's growing love of sailboat racing and enjoyed trips with him to numerous youth regattas in his Optimist, 420, and Laser. They particularly had a wonderful time in Wales two years ago at the Optimist British Nationals.

He was very proud of his children and loved traditions such as traipsing through the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree, boisterous family dinners, planting gardens, and creating memorable birthday parties, particularly for Sarah. He was an awesome dad.

He had a larger-than-life personality with an infectious laugh and always a twinkle in his eye. He couldn't get enough of sailing and loved nothing better than messing around in boats.

A celebration of his life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Mystic Congregational Church, 43 East Main St. There will also be a live stream of the celebration available at www.donzowilkinson.org

The family would like to perpetuate Donzo's love of sailing with a named Dyer Dhow dinghy at Mystic Seaport and to support youth sailing.

Contributions can be made to The Wilkinson Family Fund, c/o Peter Bergendahl, 135 Prospect Hill Road, Noank CT 06340.

Further information can be found on the website.

Published in The Day on Sept. 8, 2010
Read More
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.