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Dedicated police officer unwound with nature

| Friday, May 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Most people remember the burly “Wilkie” Wilkinson in a neatly pressed Air Force or Greensburg city police uniform.His closest friends, however, remember him kicking back with a fishing pole in one hand and a cold brew in the other.

Richard E. “Wilkie” Wilkinson, 65, of Greensburg, died Monday, May 13, 2013, in VA Medical Center in Pittsburgh. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and was a retired Greensburg police officer.

A police officer for 21 years, he eventually earned the rank of captain.

Greensburg police Capt. George Seranko remembers how supportive Mr. Wilkinson was to officers.

“He cared for the people he worked with,” Seranko said. “He would stand behind you or be the first one to stand up for you.”

He was dedicated to the profession, Seranko said, noting that he taught training classes and firearms safety.

Mr. Wilkinson stressed the importance of staying fit and was instrumental in acquiring gym equipment for officers to use in the police station.

“He was very athletic,” said Jerry Todaro, one of his closest friends. “He inspired other officers to work out. They strived to be like him.”

Mr. Wilkinson worked hard serving the city as a police officer, but he longed for annual fishing trips to Canada with the guys, Todaro said.

Each year, a group of friends traveled to a remote part of Northern Ontario to fish for Northern pike and bass. The fishing wasn't always good, but the experience was, Todaro said. The men enjoyed the wildlife, including coming face to face with a bull moose and watching an osprey snatch a fish with its long talons before taking flight.

“You're stressed when you have a job like that, but when you go up there, it's just so nice because there's nothing there,” said Todaro, retired chief of Southwest Greensburg police. “We always had a good time. We hated to leave.”

Even as Mr. Wilkinson's health worsened, Todaro said the two continued to plan local fishing outings because he knew how much Mr. Wilkinson enjoyed time away from the city.

“Lord, there's a true warrior coming to see you,” Todaro said. “I want you to let him in and take care of him.”

Mr. Wilkinson is survived by his daughter, Kim Page, and her husband, Marc, of Rapid City, S.D., and grandson Micah Page.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in Barnhart Funeral Home in Greensburg. General Greene Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 56 will hold a service at 6 p.m. Friday.

A memorial service will be held at 11 am. Saturday in the funeral home, with full military honors accorded by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 33.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or adolasinski@tribweb.com.

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