Dr. J. Ernest Wilkins Jr., 87, passed away Sunday, in Fountain Hills, AZ. He was born in Chicago, IL. The son of the late J. Ernest Wilkins Sr. and Lucille Beatrice Wilkins, nee Robinson. J. Ernest entered the University of Chicago at age 13, the youngest student ever admitted and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics when he was 19. Today his picture hangs in Eckhart Hall, the prestigious Tea Room of the University's Mathematics department. During his 61 year career, J. Ernest worked on the Manhattan Project where his contributions to nuclear- reactor physics included a discovery known as the Wilkins effect. He worked in industry at the American Optical Company, the Nuclear Development Corporation, General Atomics, and EG&G. He influenced future scientists as a Distinguished Mathematics Professor and thesis advisor at Howard University and later at Clark Atlanta University. He is survived by his children, Sharon Wilkins Hill and J. Ernest Wilkins III, from his first wife, Gloria Stewart Wilkins (deceased); his three grandchildren, Bree, West and Shaynan; and his two great-grand-daughters, Samantha and Alexa. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Graduate Fund for the Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago, alumniandfriends.uchicago.edu
. Burial services will be held Thursday, May 5, 11 a.m., at the National Memorial Cemetery, Cave Creek, AZ. Arrangements have been made by Messinger Fountain Hills Mortuary
in Fountain Hills, AZ, 12065 North Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268, 480-837-5588.
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Published by Chicago Tribune on May 4, 2011.