ULYSSES CORNELL WILKINS, SR. was born on September 30, 1922, in Littleton, North Carolina, to the late William McKinley Wilkins, Sr. and Lottie Carter Wilkins. He peacefully departed this earthly life on Sunday, September 6, 2015, in the home he adored, surrounded by love, in the arms of family and friends.
Ulysses was the oldest of seven siblings, and he lost his mother during his early years. His father later married Juran Sykes Wilkins, affectionately known to Ulysses as “Mama Julie”.
During his early life, Ulysses accepted Christ at the Olive Grove Baptist Church in Littleton, North Carolina. He attended Rising Star Elementary School, Warren County Junior High School, and graduated from Wise High School in Warren County, North Carolina. In 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army, and his three and a half year enlistment took him to Leyte, Philippine Islands to fight during World War II. He became an expert welder and progressed to a position as Army instructor of his mastered skills. His honorable discharge earned him the World War II Victory Medal.
His multifaceted career led him down many paths as he experienced many obstacles to overcome. After his military career, he enrolled in a program at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he studied soil conservation and landscape management. He became employed in a defense position at the Navy yard in Norfolk, Virginia, and in home construction in Newport News, Virginia.
Ulysses eventually settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where he became employed at the Baltimore Sparrows Point Bethlehem Steel Shipyard and retired after thirty years of dedicated, loyal service to the company. Upon retirement, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to subcontract his service companies in Maryland that performed various building projects requiring welding, as well as, direct service to customers constructing security awnings, rails, and windows on churches and homes. He also pursued several property management endeavors.
On March 21, 1948, Ulysses was united in Holy Matrimony to the former Lillian Alston, who preceded him in death in 2013, after sixty-five years of marriage. God blessed this union with six children. In 1991, Ulysses and Lillian returned to their childhood home in Littleton, North Carolina, after their retirement. He then joined with his wife in membership at the Roanoke Chapel Baptist Church, where he remained faithful in his walk with the Lord, and served his church and community until his death.
Ulysses remained hard working all of his life, and his motto for success was, “I always gave them more than they paid for.” No matter the job, he performed with excellence and always strived to give more than required. The legacy he leaves to treasure is, “No matter the material accomplishment, family, church, friends, and community are ultimately your greatest blessings.”
In addition to his parents and wife, Ulysses was also preceded in death by his brothers, McKinley Wilkins, Jr. and Carl Wilkins; and his sisters, Clara Knight, Hattie Howard, and Mary Francis Fenner.
Those remaining to forever cherish the precious memory of his life are his six children, Alice Johnson (Eric), Cynthia Richardson, Ulysses Wilkins, Jr., Artawa Wilkins (Shirley), Cheryl Hall (Edgar), and Avery Wilkins; eleven grandchildren: Erica (Seth), Terri (Wayne), James, Corey, Keith, Kenneth (Tasha), Nicole, Shari, Artawa, Jr. (Heather), Brandon, and Brian; twenty-five great-grandchildren: Ava, Ella, Charity, Faith, Jerome, Xavier, Karon, Kennard, James, Briana, Jaquavis, Christopher, Jevon, Kevon, Corey, Jr., Courtney, Keith, Jr., Kyle, Kenneth, Jr., Braeden, Janiya, Nayshaun, Kingston, Kensley, and Jazlyn; one great-great-grandchild, Elijah; his sister, Lottie Elaine Smallwood; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at the Roanoke Chapel Baptist Church in Littleton, NC. The Pastor, Rev. Timothy Edwards, will eulogize, and burial will follow in the church cemetery. The body will repose at the funeral home until 8:30 P.M. on Friday, September 11, 2015, and at the church for one hour prior to the funeral time.