Dr. Harold Franklin Wilkins
Dr. Harold Franklin Wilkins, 87, passed away from COVID-19 in Baldwin, Wis., on Jan. 7, 2021.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Harley Wilkins, mother Pauline Ruth (Fox) Wilkins; and a brother, John Harley Wilkins II.
Survivors include his devoted partner, Bryan Gjevre; extended family and many colleagues and friends.
Born in Cobden, on Nov. 3, 1933, he loved books, bookstores/libraries, newspapers, poetry, letters and flowers. He enjoyed good coffee, new restaurants, classical music, and a good story.
Dr. Wilkins received his horticulture doctorate from the University of Illinois.
He spent his career teaching and mentoring at Cornell University, the University of Florida, the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University; and he consulted all over the world.
A beloved teacher, he was devoted to helping all of his students reach their goals. He proudly “fathered” 11 Ph.D. students.
As the author of more than 200 publications, the recipient of numerous awards, the guest speaker at many seminars and conferences, his impact on the floriculture industry is unquestionable.
He influenced horticulture globally. He traveled to Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Chile, among other countries, to collect information for his research.
As a retirement project in 2005, he and Bryan purchased a nine-acre property near Baldwin, Wis., and named it Goldfinch Flower Farm.
They grew and sold beautiful and unique flowers to local florists and the Mill City Farmers Market.
In addition to research, Dr. Wilkins taught floral design and his bouquets were always exquisite. He consistently shared his positive energy and concern; he was described by many as unwaveringly sweet and kind.
Shortly before passing, Harold told Bryan he was going “upstairs to recuperate.”
A Celebration of his Life will be held this summer at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minn. Burial will be in Anna.
Many thanks to all healthcare workers during this pandemic – your dedication is unparalleled.
Deep gratitude is extended to his medical team at the Baldwin Care Center Campus and Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin, Wis.
In Harold’s memory, support your local florists and garden centers.