Col. Van Court Wilkins, U.S. Army Retired, of Shepherdstown, died on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at the VA Medical Center.
Born April 23, 1926, in Washington, D.C., he was the son of the late Eldridge Paul Wilkins and Mai Eleanor Van Court Wilkins.
Van Court Wilkins joined the army after graduation from high school. He served in the army for 31 years, before retiring with the rank of colonel in 1975. While stationed at various locations around the world, he earned a BA from the University of Maryland in 1959, an MBA from the University of Maryland in 1962, and an MA in Political Science from George Washington University in 1968.
Van was among the initial troops occupying Japan after World War II, and served in the Korean War. While stationed at Fort Ord, Lt. Col. Wilkins was presented the fifth-highest order of military decorations, the Legion of Merit, for his exceptional meritorious service as the assistant to the chief of staff in Thailand. During his service, he also received the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Silver Star.
After leaving the army, he worked in Washington, D.C., as a financial officer at the Association of American Colleges. Following a lifelong interest, he became a respected expert in public transportation, serving as editor and contributor to various transportation-oriented publications such as Passenger Train Journal, Bus World, Motor Coach Age, and The New Electric Railway Journal.
Upon retiring, he became a "gentleman farmer" and settled in Shepherdstown.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Demaris Forsythe Wilkins; son, John Van Court Wilkins of Jefferson, Md.; four daughters, Kristen Brown of Pennsylvania, Sharron McCoy of Connecticut, Jennifer O'Neill of Pennsylvania, and Michelle Cardillo of New Jersey; and 12 grandchildren.
Funeral service were held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 29, at Brown Funeral Home, with the Rev. G.T. Schramm officiating. Interment with military honors was held at Elmwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the National Cancer Society; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; Alzheimer's Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001; Autism Speaks, 1060 State Road, 2nd Floor, Princeton, NJ, 08540; and Hospice of the Panhandle, 122 Waverly Court, Martinsburg, WV 25403.
Online condolences may be offered at www.BrownFuneralHomesWV.com.