Joseph M Wilkins of El Cajon, CA, passed away at the age of 84 on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego, CA, following the removal of an acoustic neuroma. He was surrounded by his wife, Trudy, and his children. It was very peaceful.
Joe was born in Baker, Oregon, to Lucille and Jim Burnett and an older sister Ann. At the early age of ten, after his parents were divorced, his new stepfather, Roland Wilkins, adopted Ann and Joe creating the legend “Joe Wilkins.” During their childhood the family moved several times living in both Idaho and Oregon and finally settling in Klamath Falls, Oregon for their high school years. After two years of college at the University of Toledo, Ohio studying Radiology, Joe enlisted in the Air force at summer’s end of 1951 and spent his first three years stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska as a medic. Tired of the Fairbanks cold and continuously fogged glasses, he came home on leave to have a blind date his mother and a friend arranged. Joe could not remember his date’s name so Lucille wrote it down on a piece of paper. Standing on the porch, knocking on the door, he read the name — Trudy. Two weeks after the first date, Joe proposed, and three months later they were married. Some family friend thought that the lovebirds moved too fast and the marriage would not last. 63 years later, Joe and Trudy were proving everybody wrong. Following the wedding, the couple moved to the sun and beach of Long Beach, California where Joe finished his service one year later. There is the possibility that Trudy married Joe for the beach life or maybe it was just that old “True Love” thing? Trudy’s not talking.
After Joe’s military service and moving around California for several years, they had their first son, Richard, and in 1961 chose El Cajon as their forever home becoming a steady and grounding force for their neighborhood to this day. Joe applied his radiology education and passion for exacting detail and quality to become an NDT Quality Control Inspector at Straza Industries. Another year passes and Robert was born completing the family. He was very proud of the work he was involved in, which included aviation and aerospace engine components. During Joe’s 35 years at Straza Industries, which later became Ametek Straza, he advanced to department supervisor and for a time was president of the ASNT Organization, finally retiring in 1996. Throughout this period, Joe and Trudy enjoyed running and snow skiing with their family and close friends. He ran many local races including several marathons. Joe and Trudy both ran the Hawaii marathon in 1979. Joe was a very good skier; his favorite mountains were Mammoth and Brian Head. He was a wishful golfer, a snapshot photographer, and a tinkerer. He introduced his boys to backpacking in Oregon, trout fishing, and camping.
The moment Joe and Trudy retired, they started traveling the world, and the western states in his motorhome. He was an active member of the Compadres RV club for over 20 years. Joe was a long time member of El Cajon Elks Lodge 1812. He supported various lodge activities and was particularly fond of Taco Saturdays. He loved his family and was very proud of his sons. If you ask his friends and family to describe Joe, they would say that he could never sit still and always needed a project to stay busy because if he did stopped, even for a moment, he would take a nap. Napping was an art form for Joe. He napped in some of the most wondrous locations in the world. Joe was great man, always ready to move on to the next adventure. He will be missed. Joe is survived by his wife, Trudy, sons Dick (Cindy), Bob (Melanie), and granddaughters Georgia and Samantha.
A celebration of life is pending.
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