February 24, 1941 – August 31, 2022
Calvin William Wilkins, of Buffalo, a retired auto worker and stalwart of First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, died Aug. 31 after a period of declining health. He was 81 years old.
Born in Polk County, North Carolina, near the South Carolina state line, he was one of six children. In high school, he drove a bus to take young people to school, then went to class himself. After school, he collected saplings on the bus and helped his father plant trees on the family farm.
After graduating from high school, he took a suitcase and a small amount of cash and took a train to Washington, D.C., intending to stay with an aunt and older sister. Instead of descending, however, he continued to Buffalo. He was a nurse at the hospital, then got a job at the Ford factory when he was 19.
Starting out as a production worker, he attended Erie Community College for the skilled trades and became a tool and die maker. He retired in 1998.
He was first a member of Calvary Baptist Church, where he became a deacon and met his wife, the elder Barbara Fields. They married on February 19, 1966.
Afterwards, Mr. Wilkins was instrumental in founding the First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in 1972 and was a church leader for many years.
He has served as chairman of the Deacons Board, Sunday School teacher and superintendent, Vacation Bible School teacher, Baptist Training Union instructor, administrator, member of lay and men’s ministry, and member of the Kingdom Works Committee and Building Committee.
Known for always lending a hand and offering encouraging words, he was also ready with advice and jokes and started family dinners with long prayers.
He enjoyed gardening at home and at church, taking long bike rides with his grandchildren, talking about cars, attending family gatherings, singing, and collecting gospel music recordings.
He and his wife provided a home for many adopted children. A substitute teacher at Buffalo Schools, she died in 2005.
Survivors include a daughter, Calvina; one son, Peter; one sister, Annette Doggett; one brother, Spencer; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 467 William St.