Mr. and Mrs. William R. Wilkins papers
William R. (Bill) Wilkins (1928- ) was born in Loveland, Colorado. His family moved to northern California during Wilkins's childhood, and Wilkins later attended Humboldt State College, graduating in 1951. Wilkins and his college sweetheart, Fern Stahl (born 1927), married in 1952. After graduation, Wilkins joined the Navy, for which he served until his retirement in 1974 at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Wilkins's military career resulted in many moves for him, Fern, and their two children, bringing the family to Maryland for Wilkins's positions at National Security Agency Headquarters and a communication station in Cheltenham, Maryland. While Bill Wilkins was stationed in Maryland, Fern Wilkins began her own career as a Montessori teacher. Fern Wilkins died on April 20, 2008, in Columbia, Maryland. The Wilkins family met Katherine Anne Porter in November 1968 after the funeral of their son David. Fern Wilkins's cousin, Robert Beach, a member of the University of Maryland's University Relations staff, had driven the family to the funeral at Arlington Cemetery, and decided to stopped at Porter's Washington, D.C., residence after the service. Porter invited the Wilkinses into her home for lunch. From this kind gesture, a warm friendship developed. Bill Wilkins joined Porter as her assistant from April 1976 until June 1977; during this time, Porter and Wilkins worked on The Never-Ending Wrong (1977) and her never-published biography of Cotton Mather. Wilkins later worked for the Assistant Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore, Maryland, until his retirement in June 1995. From 1996 until 2003, he volunteered in support of the University of Maryland Libraries' Porter holdings and other literary manuscript collections. The collection includes correspondence, clippings, serials, photographs, memorabilia owned by or related to Porter, and audio recordings.
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Mr. and Mrs. William R. Wilkins papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
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