Monday, January 10, 2011

R.I.P. Bob Wilkins

Bob Wilkins; original Shelton Trails Committee member, and former Shelton Parks & Recreation Department Supervisor, died last Friday; January 7th, 2011. Services will be held Friday, January 14 (details can be found here.)

He had been sick for a long time, & had not been able to be active on trail work parties during the last couple of years, however he still was an active member of the Trails Committee assisting us with planning & design during our meetings until a couple of months ago. Just before Christmas he stopped by City Hall to drop off some ideas for a chainsaw bench for Rich to make.

Bob (lower left corner in above photo) was consistently an active guy who helped us get stuff done. He never minded getting his hands dirty, and was always creative in re-using things (as in the above bridge on the Turkey Trot Trail made out of an old machine pallet). He also helped establish the semi-official Shelton Trails "uniform" of plaid flannel for work parties.

Here's Michelle Papa & Bob at an earlier Trails picnic that we had every summer for volunteers. They moved to Milford after Bob retired from the Parks and Recreation Department, but that retirement didn't stop Bob from continuing to help with Trails. Bob even started recruiting his neighbor Burt to come up from Milford and help us build the Lane Street Boardwalk.

Here's Bob pointing out some aspect of the Lane St. Boardwalk to Bill Dyer. The constant back and forth banter about the best way to construct something was a staple of the Saturday morning work parties. He could be a crusty old fart when he wanted to be, but he had a lot of humor, was engaging, and kept working to get things done. Bob was responsible for a lot of our bridge designs, ordering equipment, and coming up with Rube Goldberg solutions for construction on a limited budget.

Bob never liked publicity or putting himself out in front. We had to practically shove him in the front of the table for this photo with the CT Post from a few years ago when they were doing a story on trails. From left the people are Bill Dyer, Tom Harbinson, Bob, and Terry Gallagher. Note the ongoing plaid theme.

And here is a good picture from the New Haven Register story on the Lane St. Boardwalk in 2006. Bob is third from the right. This project a nice partnership between the Shelton Land Conservation Trust and the Trails Committee. Bob was instrumental in coordinating all the construction over many weekends. Bob supported a number of conservation organizations and kept up to speed on a number of issues. He was always coming up with ideas and questions on issues that you might not expect from him on first glance.

He liked working on trails because he liked keeping busy and he enjoyed seeing people using the parks. He always liked going to ball games, fire works, concerts and Shelton Day to see how people enjoyed his parks.

Here's one of our trail parties to a small waterfall off Wesley Drive. Bob, Lynn Reid, Terry Gallagher, and Bert Sobanik had cleared out a trail so people could see the waterfall while doing the Bridge to Bridge hike.

And here's the victory photo at the end of the Lane St. Boardwalk construction. Bob is the second from the left, in plaid, with a cold beer. When you're out enjoying Shelton's trails, bridges and boardwalks it is because of volunteers like him. Thanks for everything Bob; your planning, humor, hard work, and friendship will be missed.

-Posted by Terrance Gallagher


  1. He will be truly missed. Rest in peace, Bob!

  2. A memorial bench somewhere might be a nice rememberance.

  3. Bob fought the good fight, Bob finished the course, Bob kept the faith.

    The world was better for you being here and lesser for you passing. Until we meet again, God speed.

  4. He also helped with the Open Space Committee, so Bob was an "in the trenches" contributor in more ways than one.

  5. Bob was a faithful blood donor, donating at various sites throughout Shelton.
    What a wonderful guy. He will be missed.

    Carol Kirby
    Valley Chapter
    American Red Cross

  6. I'll never forget how Bob (and Bill) built the first Rec Path bridge next to Silent Waters in a monsoon. It was absolutely pouring rain, and they were out there building a foot bridge.

  7. All my life my Dad was consciously, carefully building something for the house, or in the yard or building a garage or deck with no help, putting on a new roof, recyling before it became popular, built me a solar box outside my room (which created such a funky odor that I begged him to take it down.) He constructed a beautiful parking garage for Shelton out of cardboard to present to some board in the 70's. He used to trap quirrels in Milford and drop them off in the woods in Shelton (sorry Shelton.) He kept a running tab of how many he caught, and couldn't believe they could mate and create that many of themselves! He built an elaborate twin tower memorial to replace what was lost and submitted it to the N.Y.C authorities....I could go on........I thank whoever and all of you for creating this site and for your words. With love, his daughter

  8. Will be sorely missed, rest in peace Bob.