For many of our community members, readers and advertisers, the Wilkerson Publishing sign on our front porch is recognized as the family name of our fearless leaders and owners of the Pleasanton Express.
Even though Judy and Bill retired to Austin back in 1989, their guidance and their love for this community remained a constant factor. Moving here in 1974, they embraced everyone they met and in turn were embraced. Judy, with her love of all things – people, the arts and her sense of fairness and Bill, with his knack for making everyone feel they were special – this couple had abilities to bring out the best in those around them.
Had is a hard word to use.
William “Wild Bill” Wilkerson passed away among his loved ones early Thursday morning, April 30. He fought a good fight. He was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer a few years ago – doctors said that this wouldn’t do him in. But add chronic back pain and a few surgeries – a broken neck and a broken tailbone – he couldn’t muster up the strength to bounce back.
For some of the newcomers in this area, I am going to apologize to you. You missed knowing a great man. He was, by far, one of the funniest and entertaining persons I’ve known. He could be so blunt with you and get away with saying just about anything and everything that was on his mind.
His weekly column “Get With It” shared the goings on around the Brush Country, his musings and a chance to congratulate a citizen or a student. After being here a bit, local artist Lee Bruns painted a huge depiction of Bill’s column head for the office. It still greets us and our visitors day in and day out – curly haired, mustached Bill in a cowboy hat and kerchief with WBW monogrammed on it. That was how he ended it each week – WBW. His first column that he wrote for the Pleasanton Express, January 8, 1975 is featured on page 3A.
Bill was half of a dynamic duo – and she is still a strong and loving woman.
She is joined by other strongwilled family members, those they treated like blood and a host of friends that they loved.
He was like a second father to many of us – sharing his wealth of knowledge and supporting us, but also giving advice in his succinct and often hilarious ways. He encouraged us all to be involved in our community and our newspaper associations. He loved it when we won awards, especially those in Advertising his major at the University of Texas at Austin – (Horns up! Go Longhorns!)
The way I see it, mourning the loss of this bigger-thanlife man is fine. But I’d rather celebrate his life and what all he did for his family – blood and extended – and for this community.
His family is so loving, so rambunctious, so lively and invested in every loved one’s life –are also the first to not want anyone to worry, to feign over them and to ask for help.
Sharing stories and memories will help ease this feeling of loss. And share we will.
Over the past few days, I have heard so many anecdotes and praises for Bill encompassing close friends here plus from his South Texas Press Association family.
While putting out the best possible paper is our weekly goal, Bill always wanted us to have some fun, too. But, when we got a bit out of hand, he’d remind us “Contrary to popular belief, we have a paper to get out tonight!”
There is only one Bill Wilkerson – and I’m so fortunate to have known him, worked for him and with him and celebrated holidays with this remarkable family.
RIP Wild Bill … we miss you already!
SUE BROWN is the editor of the Pleasanton Express. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write at P.O. Drawer 880, Pleasanton, TX 78064.