- Nov. 8, 1969
|On a beautiful fall day, November 8, 1969, while attending an S.M.U. A. & M. football game at Bryan, Texas, Jack Stauffer Wilkes was struck down with a massive heart attack and in a short time, lapsed into speechless silence, thus bringing to an early end a life filled with great experiences and ceaseless activity.
Jack Wilkes was from a Methodist Parsonage. His father, The Reverend Rex B. Wilkes, was an honored and respected member of the Methodist Clergy who served churches in Oklahoma and Arkansas with distinction and effectiveness. Earl in life, Jack displayed a hunger and yearning for learning. This desire never left him. He took “the current when it served” and was spurred on to new ventures.
The institutions of learning Dr. Wilkes attended included: Gurdon and Monticello, Arkansas High Schools; Hendrix College, where he received his B.A. degree; S.M.U., where he earned his B.D. degree in theology. He served churches in Oklahoma, of which conference he was a member. During World War II, he was a chaplain in the U.S. Navy and a counselor to service men at Longbeach, California.
In 1957 Dr. Wilkes was elected president of Oklahoma City University, an Oklahoma church-related conference school. During his six-year tenure at the university, he served one year as mayor of the city.
In 1963 Dr. Wilkes was elected the thirty-first president of Centenary College, which position he held for five years.
In June of 1969 he announced his election to the vice- p residency of S.M.U., and his resignation from Centenary. In reviewing the life and work of our friend and co-worker, several things stand out as distinctive contributions to the College. First, he brought a closer relationship between the school and the clergy and laymen of the Louisiana Annual Conference. Second, he pursued the building of new dormitories until their completion. Third, he kept the lines of communication open with the students. Fourth, inter-racial enrollment became a smoothly dispatched reality for the first time in Centenary College history. Fifth, he was respected by the faculty and students for his intellectual interest and depth.
Dr. Wilkes is survived by his wife, Annette ~Germany Wilkes, a son, Rex Wilkes, three daughters: Mrs. Mike Birdsall, Miss Judy Wilkes, and Miss Susanna Wilkes
A quotation from John Milton is an appropriate closing to the life of a faithful servant of the Lord:
“All earthly grossness quit, attired with stars we shall forever sit, triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, 0 Time.”
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, Conference A, 1970, Pages 146-147, by Dr. B. C. Taylor.|