Dr. J. Ernest Wilkins Jr.
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.
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Dr. J. Ernest Wilkins was a wonderful person, in addition to being an outstanding mathematician. My fondest memories of him are from his years living in Atlanta while teaching at Clark Atlanta University. When I invited Dr. Wilkins to come over to Spelman College during the summer just to speak informally to the women in the Spelman-Bryn Mawr Summer Mathematics Program, he was quick to accept my invitation. His informal roundtable discussion with these early college students was very genuine and fatherly. The young women later remarked how special they felt to have such a famous male mathematician come to their program just to welcome them into the mathematics community.
Sylvia Bozeman
August 10, 2011
It is an honor to learn the history of such a brilliant man and an African American man. I was never taught about his great gift to our world. I am glad that I now know. May his spirit grace us all forever.
M. Pondexter
June 3, 2011
As a former student of Dr. Wilkins, while at Clark Atlanta University, I was truly blessed to have been taught by this beautifully brilliant man. I will always remember him fondly and Thank God for blessing us with him. I am now teaching mathematics to high school students and hope to continue his legacy of building the mathematics community one student at a time. I truly appreciate him. (Allyn Wall-Yokosuka, Japan)
Allyn Wall
May 26, 2011
May 14, 2011
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
May 14, 2011
He was such a creative person also a professor and Iam so sorry he died. We had such a good time together I learn a lot from him as of being his caregiver had brought me so close to him for three yrs. of care going place n doing thing together very support nlove the kids n my first grand-daughter she gained so much wisdom guided by his gentle hand. The kindness he have shown In every word n deed has been a blessing in my life n so many times of need.our love and support will always be here for u
joann barnes
May 5, 2011