Sunday, October 2, 2022

Couple Personifies Community Service

Double Oak’s Bill and Laura Wilkinson have recently received the official thanks of their fellow Denton County neighbors at three ceremonies recognizing the couple’s years of service and volunteerism to others.

“I was just so surprised, you could’ve knocked me right over,” said Bill Wilkinson after the May 24 Bartonville Water Supply Corp. (BWSC) celebration honoring his service on its Board of Directors. “I never missed a meeting during the six years I served on the board.”

“Bill was not only a board member and my superior but I consider him a friend as well,” said BWSC General Manager Jim Leggieri. “He is a man of integrity and uncompromising values and he imparted the benefits of those character traits to his service on the BWSC board.”

His tenure on the BWSC Board followed four years as a councilman for Double Oak and then four years as Mayor of Double Oak. He was recognized for his service as an elected official at the May 3 Town Council meeting.

“He set the bar pretty high for the rest of us,” said current Double Oak Mayor Mike Donnelly. “He was very dedicated as a public servant and was very deserving of the recognition for his service in southern Denton County.”

The Wilkinsons moved from Carrollton to Double Oak 16 years ago when Bill retired after 32 years working for Rockwell International. The community’s one-acre minimum lot size and “its rural setting is a little oasis in the middle of an urban desert” drew the couple to the area.

“I didn’t want to be a couch potato, so I ran for the council to help get the new Bartonville Water Supply Corp tower built, which was very controversial and I even had some threats,” said Bill. “I got elected anyway and once people saw how nice the tower turned out, everything calmed down.”

The new tower was needed to maintain water pressure levels for the housing growth in Double Oak, Cooper Canyon, the Bridlewood development in Flower Mound and parts of Highland Village.

“Our daughter bet him $50 he’d end up running for mayor, but he said he wouldn’t,” said Laura. “After he was sworn in, she held out her hand and he paid her the $50.”

In his tenure as mayor, Bill was able to complete his two goals for the city; a real police department and a new town hall. He accomplished both without a tax increase or a bond election.

“The previous town hall was in a mobile home and I just didn’t feel it was a proper representation for our community,” said Bill. “It took two years to build, paying as we built. I don’t know of any place else that was able to pay cash for a new town hall.”

The Wilkinsons met in 1962 on a blind date to see Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds,” and married in 1963. Their son, Mike, 45, is a medical software designer and their daughter, Vicki Hall, 42, has two sons, Andrew and Travis, ages 11 and 5, respectively, and is an expert chemical forensic scientist.

Bill can trace his roots in North Texas back to his grandfather who had a farm in Grapevine, but was forced to release it after being shot in his leg during the Civil War.

“My dad, the youngest of eight [children], was born in Grapevine in 1892 and lived on a farm until he was drafted into World War I,” Bill said. “He lost his farm, too, and worked in the oil and gas industry, which moved him around.”

The family returned to Texas from Alabama in 1940 when Bill, the youngest of three, was two-years-old.

“We landed in the panhandle out in Shamrock and I went all through school there,” he said. After going to electronics school and four years in the Air Force stationed in Germany, he returned to North Texas.

For her part, Laura Wilkinson, was honored in April for her 50 years of service in the international Beta Sigma Phi women’s service sorority.  During those years, she helped raise thousands of charity dollars and served as president for each of the six degrees, as well as serving on 10 area convention committees and five state convention boards.

“When I joined in 1960, there were about 300-400,000 members internationally, but now that so many women are working outside the home that has had an impact on the number of women volunteering,” said Laura. In spite of that, there are 52 Dallas metro chapters.

Laura and her identical, mirror-image twin sister, Shurley (CQ) were born in Atlanta and moved to Texas when her chemist mother joined the State Liquor Board in Austin. In 1954 the family moved to Dallas and Laura was in the first graduating class from Bryan Adams High School.

Now that Bill has retired from public life, he and his family plan to relax and travel. The first vacation scheduled is a cruise to Alaska in July.

“Bill is a very caring person, always ready to lend a helping hand,” said Donnelly. “He’s been a great help to me in the short time I’ve been in southern Denton County. He’s just an exemplary person.”

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