Byron O. Wilkins obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Byron O. Wilkins

August 6, 1923 - January 11, 2011

Obituary


raced into the arms of Jesus on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, after a very sudden and brief battle with sarcomatoid lung cancer with metastases to his brain. By God's grace, he was spared any pain during his illness and is now free to be himself again in the presence of his loving Heavenly Father.

B.O. was born in the small town of Luxora, Arkansas on August 6, 1923. In his formative years, he participated in scouting, earning the rank of Eagle Scout; he was also the leader of the local scout troop and worked...

raced into the arms of Jesus on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, after a very sudden and brief battle with sarcomatoid lung cancer with metastases to his brain. By God's grace, he was spared any pain during his illness and is now free to be himself again in the presence of his loving Heavenly Father.

B.O. was born in the small town of Luxora, Arkansas on August 6, 1923. In his formative years, he participated in scouting, earning the rank of Eagle Scout; he was also the leader of the local scout troop and worked on the camp staff of the area council for two summers. He worked part-time in the drug store where his father was a pharmacist, and participated in numerous school activities, including the band, and the football and basketball teams. He was editor of the school paper and received honors in English, math and music. He was also valedictorian of the 1941 high school graduating class.

After graduation, he began classes in chemical engineering at Louisiana State University (LSU). Extracurricular activities included participating in ROTC (member of the Band Company), membership in Theta Xi fraternity (social), Alpha Chi Sigma (professional chemical fraternity), and Delta Kappa Psi, an honorary band fraternity. He left school in May of 1943 for induction into the Army when students in the Enlisted Reserve Corps were called to active duty. After basic training, he was placed in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) and sent to Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) to study advanced mechanical engineering.

When the ASTP was discontinued in March of 1944, he and 3,000 other soldiers from around the country were transferred to the 99th Infantry Division at Camp Maxey, Texas. In September, the division embarked for England, and in November, moved to the Belgian-German border, facing the Siegfried Line. He was promoted to Sergeant in December. On the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, his company was hit by two German regiments, and he was taken prisoner.

After six weeks, he was injured on a march away from the approaching Russian army and sent to an infirmary; after a brief recovery period, he was placed with some British prisoners until the war ended. Military citations included the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, POW Medal, and American and European theater ribbons. The division was cited twice by Charles, Prince of Belgium, to the Order of the Belgian Army with Fourrageres 1940, which became part of the uniform for all members of the division.

After discharge from the Army in November of 1945, he resumed his studies at LSU. In his senior year, he was elected vice-president of the College of Engineering, and he graduated in June of 1947 with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering.
In 1949, B.O. was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves and assigned to the 90th Infantry Division. He transferred to a research and development unit and was promoted to first lieutenant. His job in industry prevented an immediate call-up for the Korean War, resulting in his discharge.

After graduation from LSU, he became employed by Gulf Oil Corporation at the refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. In 1950, he married Marilyn Kirby of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; they had two children - Stephen Dane in 1951 and Melanie in 1954. The family was active in scouting, school and sports activities, and church. In addition to his full-time job, B.O. worked part-time as the Music Director at Fourth Avenue Baptist Church in Port Arthur.

In 1965, Gulf transferred him to refining headquarters in Houston, Texas, where he eventually became a director in a newly-formed department charged with reducing physical losses of feedstocks and products, worldwide. In 1985, after Gulf was merged into Chevron, B.O. took early retirement with the others in his department. The group formed a company in which he became an executive vice-president, performing the same tasks as his previous position with Gulf Oil. He retired a second time in January of 1993.

In the late '80s/early '90s, B.O. became involved in the activities of the 99th Infantry Division Association, an affiliation of former members who keep in close contact with each other through a division newspaper, a company newsletter, and annual reunions at various locations throughout the country. He was the editor of his army company's newsletter, the K Company Kapers, and recently served as both Vice-President and President of the Association in '07 and '08, respectfully. He was to complete his second term as President this July at the Association's final annual reunion.

Church involvement at Tallowood Baptist Church since 1965 has included membership in the Adult Choir, serving as Church Historian, work on various committees, coaching women's softball teams, and leading the music for several adult Sunday School departments. Since 1995, he also led the music for the weekly Sunday afternoon worship service at Emeritus Memorial Oaks Nursing Home.

Aside from all his service and accomplishments, his daughter says that his greatest accomplishment was being an awesome dad. His ongoing support, sense of humor, sacrificial generosity, integrity, service to others, and unwavering commitment to the Lord and His will are qualities she will always remember and strive to emanate in her own daily spiritual journey.
B.O. was preceded in death by his parents, Byron O. Wilkins, Sr. and Katharine Wyatt Wilkins; his wife of 57 years, Marilyn Kirby Wilkins; and his son, Stephen Dane Wilkins. Survivors include his daughter, Melanie; his sister Ann Claire Wilson of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and several cousins, nieces, and grandnieces and nephews.

A celebration of B.O.'s life will take place on Friday, January 21st, at 11:00 A.M. in the Worship Center at Tallowood Baptist Church, 555 Tallowood Drive, in Houston, Texas. A private interment will be held prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, B.O. requested that any desired contributions be made to the Tallowood Tomorrow Fund of Tallowood Baptist Church.