Robert G. Wilkerson, Jr.
I'm a man of many talents according to some but in reality I just love to keep trying new things. I was born on January 7, 1953 as the first son of Robert G. Wilkerson and Joyce Booth Wilkerson. I was destined to have 3 brothers in the next 7 years. Born in Charleston, West Virginia I lived my first year and half in Farmville, VA where my parents were attending college. Dad graduated from Hampden-Sydney and Mom from Longwood College in 1954. We then moved to Norristown, PA in 1954 followed by a move to Doylestown, PA in the heart of Bucks County. It was here that my first real memories developed. We lived in Doylestown until 1966 when Dad decided to go into business with a friend in Wisconsin.
So it was off to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Oconomowoc was a wonderful place to live as there was a tremendous amount of outdoor activities in the area. Sailing on the local lakes and hiking the parks was fun in the summer. When winter came we had skiing and ice skating locally. Our town even had a Zamboni to make the figure skating rink and speed skating track glass smooth. Camping was a year round event for us. My brother and I were in the Boy Scouts and Explorers. Dad was our Explorer advisor for our new Post. During this time I was fortunate to be able to attend the 1968 Boy Scout World Jamboree in Trollhatten, Sweden. As part of the trip we traveled Europe for two weeks before heading to Sweden. We visited the Lord Baden-Powell house in England, stayed at the Army base in Berlin, Germany, had an audience with Pope John in Rome and a guided tour of the insides of the Vatican, rode a train thru the Alps with a night in a Youth Hostel in Switzerland before heading off to Stockholm.
In Stockholm we stayed with some local families for a couple of days with a variety of local sightseeing. Stockholm was an eye opening event for a young man almost 16 years old. I even found out how cold the Baltic Sea was in August. Having just spent a half hour in a sauna we ran down to the ocean and jumped in from the dock. On hitting the water I was so shocked that I think I might have walked on the water (ice?) to get out! Then it was off to the jamboree. What a wonderful time we had there. We even found out that Swedish Scouting was Co-Ed!
In the fall of 1968 we moved to Upstate NY to the town of Herkimer in the Mohawk Valley region. I lived in that town until 1996. While there I got married in 1974 and had two wonderful children. Jason was my first born followed 3 years later by Jennifer. They gave me a wonderful gift by being my children. Jason is now living in Florida learning the electrical trade and Jennifer still lives in Herkimer working at the local bank.
I was divorced in 1997. I got married May 11, 2002 to Diane Collins who has been my partner for the last 5 years. I've added Christa as another daughter so my son will finally be out-numbered.
Over the years I have been fortunate to experience a number of hobbies. I've ridden motorcycles since I was 16 years old and currently ride a 1998 Harley Davidson Road King Classic. I've been a licensed pilot since 1979 flying single engine airplanes all over the country. For over 10 years I owned a 1976 Bellanca Citabria 7KCAB with my good friend and partner, Steve Barker. For those who don't know airplanes I'll give you a clue as to what this plane was used for: Citabria is Airbatic spelled backwards. It was a great plane to do aerobatics in. Very forgiving and capable of most maneuvers. Loops, rolls, Hammerheads and spins were a great way to relax. I'd love to buy another airplane in the next few years but until I can, I'll have to get my flight time in on my fathers 1975 Beechcraft Sierra.
Woodworking has been of interest to me since I was a young child. My grandfather, Thomas William Anderson Booth, was a great influence on me. While he was not a woodworker per se, he taught me how to use tools as well as buying me my first power tool - a Skil 3/8" drill that I still use today. He worked mostly with hand tools with a small bench top 8" saw being the extent of his power tools. I treasure the two hand planes and a set of chisels that I inherited from him. He was a gentle man who never raised his voice but was always heard. His dry sense of humor was evident in a statement he made about my grandmother. "Never met another woman like her...... Man neither." He also taught me that there is no such thing as a big task. It's just a whole lot of little tasks, so take them one at a time and it will soon be done.
In the 70's thru early 80's I accumulated to usual array of power tools that most homeowners accumulate for their job as a handyman. Craftsman 10" table saw, 12" Band Saw, 17" Drill Press and an array of hand tools. This let me build small items, book cases, etc. as well as letting me keep up (sort of...) with repairs to an 1890's Victorian home. I was very limited in space as my shop was in the basement that had a 6' ceiling height. My move to Virginia necessitated leaving all my tools back in NY as I lived in an apartment for the next 3 years. When Diane and I bought our house in August of 1999 I was finally able to have the shop space I've always wanted. When we were looking at new houses we drove by a small rancher. I didn't even look as I preferred a two story house but Diane said, " Did you see the garage behind that house?" as we drove by. It came down to the agreement that Diane liked the house and I liked the shop (Did she say garage?), so we bought it.
My shop is 26' x 36' with 11' ceilings and is shared with general storage. I intend to build a small utility building so that I can move the lawn equipment outside and free up as much space as possible. If you take a look at my shop tour page you'll see a variety of pictures showing it's current configuration. With the space available I started looking at ways to get some of the equipment that I now have. Having an interest in old iron I've attended auctions, watched the swap sheet and put out feelers to locate machinery. I've bought, restored and sold a number of pieces on my way to equipping the shop. I guess that I've managed to get some great machinery with a very limited out of pocket expense. I'm getting closer to having exactly what I always dreamed about. The last two years have been spent fixing up the shop and working on equipment with only minor woodworking being done. I've been slowed down by the demise of our family business and my current job as a framer, but not stopped. The shop is almost ready to roll!
Bob - August 2002