Donald Wright Wilkinson, 82, a Grand Island resident, passed away at the Erie County Medical Center on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, after a three-month illness.
He was born in Buffalo on Oct. 27, 1928, and attended Bennett High School. He graduated from the University at Buffalo in 1950 with a degree in biology. He attained a second degree, in audio engineering, in 1998.
Wilkinson was a self-employed audio engineer at Island Digital Technologies and Island Sound. He was a stringer for WNED and WEBR, broadcasting and recording live concerts in both classical and jazz genres. He also served as a sound engineer for local jazz bands.
He was a recording engineer with several classical discs and jazz recording credits to his name. Wilkinson was well known in the local jazz community and made innumerable live recordings of area jazz happenings.
In addition to his musical and broadcasting accomplishments, Wilkinson was a paper recycler at Military Waste Paper and Metal Inc.; a demolition company owner at Veterans Demolition Inc. and U.S.S. Wrecking Inc.; an electronic technician; a two-way radio repair technician; and a cab driver.
Politically active and opinionated, he was elected in 2010 as a Democrat committeeman for Grand Island's seventh district. Wilkinson was a member of the Tea Party.
Among his other interests and activities, Wilkinson was a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Antique and Classic Boat Society, the Grand Island Rod and Gun Club, the National Rifle Association and the Sebahlait Society (a since-disbanded Lebanese men's group); a micro-brew enthusiast; a former member of the Buffalo Power Squadron, where he attained the rank of navigator; a member of the UB marching band (1946-50); a jazz band leader with his own band in high school and college; a stock car racer in the late 1940s and early '50s; a lifelong boating fan; a member of the Bennett High School swim team; a scuba diver, who began Wilkinson Underseas Enterprises; and a figure skater in his youth.
Wilkinson farmed with his family at Black Creek, Stevensville, Ontario, during World War II. He briefly attended a one-room schoolhouse at Black Creek.
Wilkinson built and restored boats with a special interest in Richardson and Chris-Craft boats. He was an MG car enthusiast with a keen eye for MG-TCs. He was very interested in chemistry and pyrotechnics.
He was, in fact, self-taught in many disciplines. If Wilkinson were interested, he would teach himself.
Don is survived by his wife of 47 years, Joan (Peters) Wilkinson; his children, Timothy H. (Isabel) Wilkinson, Jennifer L. Chin (John) of Montclair, N.J., and Rachel L Wilkinson of Grand Island; his grandchildren, Emma R. Chin, Matthew A. Chin and Jenna R. Wilkinson; his brothers, David E. Wilkinson (Adonna) of Canyon Lake, Texas, and the late Peter Wilkinson. He is the son of the late Howard E. Wilkinson, DDS, and Emma Rose Wilkinson; and the grandson of the late Francis E. Wilkinson and Frances (Spicknell) Wilkinson and the late William J. Rose and Rosa (Cook) Rose.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 26, at 10:30 a.m. at the Buffalo Launch Club, 503 E. River Road.
Don was an anatomical donor to UB.