[env-trinity] Trinity Journal: Attorney Wilkins, friend of the outdoors, dead at 88

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Nov 4 17:48:31 PDT 2016


http://www.trinityjournal.com/news/local/article_53bb6ea4-a0a0-11e6-9705-d74692d1730d.html

Attorney Wilkins, friend of the outdoors, dead at 88
   
   - Nov 2, 2016
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Alfred Wilkins passed away on Oct. 25, 2016, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his two daughters, Elizabeth Johnson (Charles) and Emily Mattison (Mark); eight grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. Marne, his beloved wife of 57 years, preceded him in December 2007, a loss from which he never recovered.Al was a fourth generation California native, born Jan. 11, 1928, in Ventura, and raised in Fowler on a ranch that had been in the family since the mid-1800s. He was surrounded by many family members throughout the community – on neighboring ranches and farms, in school, businesses and church. The annual Wilkins Family Picnics were large and legendary, and his many Fowler family and friends formed an important backdrop for all of Al’s life.Al was a talented athlete and participated frequently, with his equally talented brothers, in the prestigious West Coast Relays in Fresno, in track and field events. He raced the quarter-mile and mile relay, where he excelled. Later, he earned the Stanford University Varsity Block S for his track performance. Al was also scouted for professional baseball, but his father advised him to first attend college, which he did. He never returned to a pursuit of professional sports.The Wilkins men were all involved in Boy Scouts, and Al joined as well, earning the rank of Eagle Scout in high school. He also worked summers as a lifeguard at the Boy Scout Camp on Shaver Lake, in Fresno County. It was there that he learned to canoe and began to develop his abiding love of the wild outdoors.Al also loved music. He was an accomplished cellist, earning a chair as a young man in the Fresno Philharmonic orchestra. His favorite composer by far was Johann Sebastian Bach. He and Marne were avid supporters of the Oregon Bach Festival, and looked forward every year to attending the summer festival at the University of Oregon in Eugene.During World War II, at the age of 16, Al enrolled at Stanford University before completing his senior year of high school. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in Social Science, emphasizing political science and history. He joined the Sigma Chi fraternity, was elected president of the sophomore class, and loved his undergraduate years at Stanford.He attended his first year of law school at Columbia University in New York, then married and moved back to California, and graduated from Stanford Law in the class of 1952, along with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, with whom he was a personal friend. With them he also served on Stanford Law Review’s editorial board. He always maintained his love of learning and read constantly, especially works about American political history, the life and speeches of Abraham Lincoln, and the writings of Soren Kierkegaard.Al began his law career in 1952, at the San Diego firm of Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, where he was made a partner. After a number of years, he and three friends left to form their own firm together. While practicing in San Diego, Al tried to a jury several important cases, some resulting in landmark published opinions. However, his heart, along with Marne’s, was for the outdoors and defending the environment, in particular the wild waters. Marne and Al’s vacations of fly fishing, hiking and camping in Trinity County eventually led to moving their family to Weaverville, and to his lifelong work on behalf of the free-flowing North Coast California rivers.Al participated actively in authoring the California Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, and the California Coastal Act. Together with like-minded colleagues from the boards of Cal-Trout and California Tomorrow, he formed the North Coast Rivers Association, the Committee of Two Million (devoted to stopping the proposed dam on the Eel River at Dos Rios), and served for years as a board member of the Planning & Conservation League of California and as a member of the California Department of Forestry’s advisory board. He also co-founded and served on the board of the Institute for Man & Nature, and the Trinity Trust.Al opened his Main Street law office in Weaverville in 1965. He practiced literally every aspect of civil law continuously until his illness prevented him from coming to the office in 2015. Although he enjoyed trial work, Al preferred to use his broad legal experience and ability to help resolve matters without the expense of litigation, and he gained a reputation as a helping lawyer. He resisted raising his fees, and often accepted vegetables, eggs or other such things in lieu of money from his clients. Al loved the land and old-timers of Trinity County, and felt a special bond with them. Many clients tried to give him gifts, which he never accepted. One notable example was the Young brothers, Bob and Allen, who tried to bequeath him their home. He declined the gift, but convinced Allen to convert this into a bequest to the community in trust, and the property is now known as the Young Family Ranch.The family would like to give special thanks to Al’s many home care helpers in the community, and in particular to caregiver Cheryl Thomas for her excellent abilities and her unwavering support of Al over the past five years as she managed his care in his own home with heartfelt grace and ease. The family would also like to thank Josh Horn and the staff of Mirabel Lodge in Forestville, in Sonoma County, who warmly received Al, and graciously and lovingly cared for him in his most difficult final days.The family plans to hold a private celebration of Al’s life during the holidays. In remembrance of his work on the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and other environmental laws, the family requests any memorial contributions to be given to The Institute for Man & Nature, c/o Elyshia Holliday, 29 Princeton Road, Prosser, WA 99350.   
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