Published in the May 10 – 23, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
It is said that a person’s true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. If those words are true, on April 28, 2017 we lost a very wealthy man, Willie Wilkinson. As many of you know, Willie struggled with cancer, chronic back pain and heart issues, the aftermath of serving our country in Vietnam, yet he took every day in stride rarely complaining.
If you live in Morgan Hill, you likely knew Willie. He was a longtime resident who enjoyed being out riding his Harley and visiting with his friends. It is impossible to put into words the importance of friendship and how much Willie meant to everyone. He positively influenced so many lives in so many ways and we are eternally thankful.
One of his beliefs in life was the importance of being authentic, always saying what needs to be said because it’s good for the relationship and for the soul. Willie always lived life to the fullest and loved to laugh and smile. It was even more important for him to make others laugh and smile. Willie was a unique and caring person who touched the lives of all who knew him. To know him was a pleasure, to be considered his friend was an honor. He had an infectious smile that made anyone feel comfortable around him.
When speaking with Willie, conversations often turned to his family. He was an extremely proud father to Cody and Adrianne Wilkinson, father in law to Erika Wilkinson, and grandfather to River Wilkinson and he wanted you to know it. He was a wonderful father to his children and laid a strong foundation for them.
Willie often shared stories of his rodeo days and the people he knew and loved. Several of us had the pleasure of going to the Salinas Rodeo a couple years back. You would have thought you were with a celebrity. Many people stopped him to say hello and share a memory.
Willie was a Vietnam veteran and proud of it. He shared many of the stories and his experience with his friends. Some of the stories were quite difficult to share but he wanted to share that part of who he is. Willie was the guy that truly had “been there and done that.”
To his friends and family he will never be forgotten nor replaced. His daughter, Adrianne, has said, “don’t say rest in peace. Anyone who knows him knows he rode up to heaven on his thundering motorcycle with music blaring and the party began.” No truer words can be said about him. He’ll be up there looking over all of us, keeping us safe.
Willie would not want any one of us to be sad with his passing. He would want us to share our great memories, laugh, and live life as he did, to the fullest.
Even though Willie may be gone, his memory will live on in all of us forever.
Willie, we will always cherish our friendship. Ride hard, brother.
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