Robert Bob I. Wilkinson
The Story On Bob’s Life:
Born March 17, 1929, in Columbus, Ohio, to Joseph Francis and Almira Merchent Wilkinson. He was their second son. His brother Joseph was two years older.
Shortly after Bob’s birth, the family moved to Crewe, a small town in southeast Virginia, which was then a hub for the Norfolk and Western Railroad.
Bob grew up in this small town and loved baseball and football. Baseball was a true love and he had dreams of a professional career and attended baseball school in Florida after graduating from Crewe High School. He also attended Randolph Macon Men’s College in Virginia for two years.
Instead of completing college, he joined many of the young men in the town who found employment in the railroad offices, which gave him time before work, at lunch time, and after work to work on his beloved golf game. In his small town there was only one course – with sand greens – but he was an accomplished student and golf became his passion.
In 1955, he joined the golf professional ranks as assistant professional to Scottish Professional Tommy Galloway at Hermitage Country Club in Richmond, Virginia. He moved to Riverside, California, in 1957 to become assistant to pro Ray Hanes at the Victoria Country Club. Ray Hanes became a mentor and lifelong friend.
While working in Richmond, Virginia Bob met Julia Starkey. Introduced by mutual friends, they fell in love and were married in Riverside California on July 10, 1957. It was a marriage that was to last almost 48 years.
In 1960, Bob decided to take the plunge and go on the summer professional golf tour. He always equated the experience with that of a Master’s Degree for a club professional. Bob and Julia enjoyed their summer adventures traveling from tournament to tournament.
After the tour, Bob accepted a job as teaching professional at Tripoli Golf Club in Milwaukee and from there moved on to become head professional at Parcwood Country Club in Milwaukee.
He later served as head professional at Thorngate Country Club in Deerfield, Illinois, just north of Chicago and at West Shore Country Club in Grosse Ile, Michigan.
Tiring of the Midwest winters, Bob, Julia and their two daughters Karen and Christie, were delighted at the opportunity to return to California in 1981 where Bob worked as assistant and teaching professional at Laguna Hills Golf Club at Leisure World. He was later named Golf Director and retired in late 1999.
Bob had been a member of the Professional Golfers Association of America since 1957, and upon his retirement, was honored as a life member.
Robert Wilkinson married Julia Starkey on July 10, 1957, at the First Presbyterian Church in
God blessed them with two beautiful daughters: Karen – born July 1, 1963, and Christie – born
October 16, 1968. Karen lives in Lake Forest and Christie and her husband Gary Lopez live in
Other interests. While in high school during World War II, Bob made use of his love for the
Saxophone and joined some of his friends in a band that played for local events and at the nearby army base of Camp Pickett. He also loved the clarinet and any big band music. In his later years, he loved to shop for old 33-rpm big band records and accumulated quite an extensive collection.
His family, his church, his golf and his music were the loves of his life.
No grandchildren – just two wonderful granddogs whom Bob loved very much.
Bob and Julia joined Presbyterian Church of the Master soon after they returned to California in 1981. Bob loved God and served him daily. He was a Southern Gentleman who respected his fellowman and lived by the golden rule.
Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease with Lewy Body in 1999, and he continued to play golf with daughter Karen until about a year and a half ago. His legs grew weaker, his body more slumped, and his gait more unsure, but he never ever complained. Although the disease robbed his of some of his comprehension and memory, he was always happy in his home and loved and delighted in his wife and daughters. He accepted his disease with the same grace and dignity, which had marked his entire life.
He took a turn for the worse and was taken by ambulance to Mission Viejo Hospital on Saturday, February 12th. He was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia a common disease with Parkinson’s when the muscles become too weak to swallow efficiently. He remained in the hospital for over two weeks with his family at his bedside while God led him gently to heaven.
He was a devoted husband and father, delighting in his family every day of his life. He blessed them with his examples of love, patience, grace, long suffering, forgiveness, strength and leadership. He was a strong, gentle man who impacted every life he touched.
Memorial donations can be made to the Sanctuary Building Fund at PCOM.
Presbyterian Church of the Master
26051 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692