Harry T. Wilks In Memoriam
It is with a mixture of tremendous sadness and deep admiration that we must share the news of the death of Harry Wilks on March 11, 2014 on his 89th birthday. Members of the Vergilian Society will be most familiar with Harry from his generous gift leading to complete renovation of the Villa Vergiliana and to the endowing of a scholarship program making it possible for high school students to visit Italy and to study at the Harry Wilks Study Center. These bequests, which began in 2010, were consistent with his great passions. He had tremendous enthusiasm for the ancient world, especially its history and art. A lifelong learner, Harry developed an interest in ancient sculpture, which he began to study in his retirement. He also loved Italy, traveling there frequently, sometimes for as long as six weeks a year, and as recently as last year. He admired its history, culture, cuisine, and music, especially opera. Riding in his car one would often be an audience for works of Puccini and performances by tenors such as Mario Lanza, accompanied by learned commentary and reflections on Caruso. Perhaps more than anything else, however, Harry cared deeply about the education of young people. He believed that the problems of the world could be solved by educated young people who were trained in the lessons of history and of leadership. This belief motivated his numerous bequests designed to provide educational opportunities to high school and college students.
We in the Vergilian Society are grateful for his support of our center and programs and consider them a portion of his legacy, which we trust will continue to reflect his wishes for the improvement of the educational opportunities for young people for many years to come.
Steven L. Tuck, President 2008–11
Craig Kallendorf, President 2011–14
Richard F. Thomas President 2014–17
An account of his life, achievements, and philanthropic generosity may be found here.