On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, Charles “Rex” Wilkinson, beloved husband, father, brother, uncle and grandfather, peacefully passed away in Chicago, Ill. with his family at his side following complications due to a brain tumor journey that started with his diagnosis in 2011.
Mr. Wilkinson was born in Crawfordsville in 1950 to Charles and Nina Wilkinson of Waynetown.
He cherished his farm boy upbringing and often shared stories of his involvement in the Waynetown Baptist Church, FFA, and 4H club. He loved participating in a variety of sports, clubs, and musical activities at Waynetown High School (class of ’68). Mr. Wilkinson received his bachelor’s degree from DePauw University (class of ’72), and later a master’s degree in music education from Northern Illinois University. He taught music at Prairie Junior High School in Alsip, Ill. for 31 years. In 1973, he married fellow DePauw University music student, Carol Newman and they raised two daughters in Western Springs, Ill. where they resided until moving to Chicago in 2013. He embraced all the city had to offer including concerts, plays, musicals and museums.
Mr. Wilkinson had a deep passion for music, which he generously shared. He was an accomplished pianist, composer, arranger and performer, playing and singing weekly for devoted fans at the regionally known Mars Supper Club on Lake Como, Wis. near Lake Geneva where his family owns a summer property. For many years, Mr. Wilkinson belonged to Christ Church of Oak Brook, Ill., where he was an active member of numerous musical groups and an elder. He performed extensively with the Tempo Players, a local theater company. Along with his wife, Carol, he co-directed the Sunshine Choir at the First Congregational Church in Western Springs. A faithful member and elder of Chapel on the Hill in Wisconsin, he continued to share his many musical gifts and enjoyed being in numerous theater productions at the chapel’s Christian Arts Centre.
Mr. Wilkinson was universally known for his kindness, his love of a good peanut butter shake, his joyful sense of humor (puns especially) and his remarkable ability to conjure up obscure trivia on every subject from sports, to politics, to history, to pop culture. A lover of travel adventures, he spent summers visiting many countries and crossing the United States in an RV with his family, visiting historic sites such as Glacier National Park, the Badlands and Gettysburg among others.
He taught his children how to love and how to be loved. The grace, humility and courage he showed daily in his cancer journey were and will continue to be an inspiration to all those who knew him. He graced the world with a deep faith, gentle spirit and with his beautiful music. He will be deeply missed and leaves a remarkable legacy.
Survivors include wife Carol Wilkinson; daughters Amy Wilkinson and Beth Raduly; sons-in-law, Matt Pryor and Jozsef Raduly; grandchildren Cora and Isaac Raduly and August and Eli Pryor; sister, Karen French (Keith) Fruits of Waynetown, and many extended family members.
A memorial service will be held at Chapel on the Hill in Lake Geneva, Wis., on Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Brain Tumor Association, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL 60631.
Online contributions may be made at www.abta.org