Joe B. Wilkins Sr., 95, of Lexington died June 30

Joe B. Wilkins Sr. of Lexington, age 95, died Sunday, June 30, 2019. 

He was born Oct. 1, 1923. Joe was a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., but lived most of his life in Portsmouth. He retired from the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad as a conductor after 34 years. He served nearly 60 years on the board of the Norfolk and Portsmouth Beltline Credit Union and was also Secretary/Treasurer of the UTU Lodge 854 for 20 years.

Joe was a wise, kind and generous man who will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend to many.  He passed on his love of nature and history to his family through numerous camping adventures and hikes along mountain trails as well as visits to historic sites throughout the United States.  He traveled extensively throughout the country in his RV, including five trips to Alaska, and many parts of Canada. In another time, he might have been a pioneer. His positive attitude towards life and sense of humor even when facing difficult situations was an inspiration to all who knew him. Whenever he was asked how he was doing he would reply “It is a good day. Every day is a good day.”  

Joe was a natural athlete and in his younger years played baseball, ran track, boxed (40-2-1 record) and played semi-pro football. He especially loved and excelled at golf. He was offered the chance to turn pro in both baseball and golf but chose to pursue other opportunities because he felt his family needed a more stable environment, and he always put his family first.

When his children were young Joe was active in several community organizations including serving as an assistant Boy Scout Troop leader and as a Little League Baseball coach. Joe had a rapport with children and many children in his neighborhood would come to Joe to have their bikes fixed even long after his own children and grandchildren were grown.

Joe served a Deacon at the Port Norfolk Baptist Church and was then an active member of Churchland Baptist Church. During his years in Lexington, he was a member of Manly Memorial Baptist Church. Though he was not one to preach, his lived his deep faith everyday by demonstrating kindness, generosity, and respect to all.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 55 years, Marjorie Farmer Wilkins. He is survived by his two sons, Dr. Joe B. Wilkins Jr. and his wife, Marsha, of Daphne, Ala., and the Rev. Dr. J. Michael Wilkins and his wife, Lucy, of Lexington; three grandchildren, Brian Wilkins, Ben Wilkins and Beth Bowman; and five great-grandchildren, Grace Wilkins, Wyatt Wilkins, Lucy June Bowman, Owen Wilkins and Elena Rose Wilkins.

The family expresses their wholehearted thanks to Sheila Camden, Doris Moore and the Rockbridge Area Hospice for the attentive and compassionate care they provided Joe.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests that memorial gifts be made to Manly Memorial Baptist Church or the Friends of the Blue Ridge.

A graveside service will be held on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at the Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth at 11:30 a.m.

A reception will follow the service in the fellowship hall of Churchland Baptist Church.

Arrangements are by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.


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