Spencer W. Wilkinson (1945 - 2019)

  • "To the Spencer and Wilkinson families, I was so sorry to..."
    - Bobbie Brooke
  • "We were shocked and saddened to hear of Spence's passing...."
    - Marley, Dave and Tim Bruegger
  • "Dorcas/Spence Jr. So sorry to hear about Spence. He was a..."
    - Nick Nichols
  • " Our deepest sympathies to the family. We pray in your..."
  • "Our deepest condolences. You are all in our prayers. May..."
    - Morrisons
Service Information
Baldwin Brothers Funerals & Cremations
1654 N Semoran Blvd
Orlando, FL
Friday, Jul. 5, 2019
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Baldwin Brothers Funerals & Cremations
1654 N Semoran Blvd
Orlando, FL 32807
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WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - Colonel Spencer W. Wilkinson (USAF, retired) passed away suddenly on Sunday, June 30, 2019, in the arms of his loving wife, Dorcas, and his son, Spencer Jr.

Spence, as he was known to family and friends, was a proud Virginian, born August 26, 1945, in Charlottesville. He was raised in the small town of Arrington, Va., at the foot of the Blue Ridge. His childhood was spent with his two brothers and his cousins roaming the woods and fields that surrounded the Spencer family home place. His extended family was a constant in his life and their love and guidance formed the backbone of his extraordinary character.

Spence graduated from Nelson County High School in Lovingston, Va., in 1962 and followed his older brother, Bob, to the Virginia Military Institute. He graduated in 1966 as a Distinguished Air Science student with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. The friendships he formed in the Rat Line with his VMI Brother Rats would last a lifetime.

He got his first taste of flying at VMI, receiving flight instruction under the Air Force ROTC Flight Instruction program, and set his sights on becoming an Air Force fighter pilot. Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the Air Force and entered active duty in June 1967. He graduated from flight school in February 1971 and went on to training as an F-4 pilot. In December 1971, he was assigned to the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron, DaNang Air Force Base, Vietnam. The squadron later moved to Takhli Air Base, Thailand. During his tour in Vietnam, he flew 170 combat missions, 60 of which were over North Vietnam, and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, four Distinguished Flying Crosses and fifteen Air Medals. During his distinguished career, he served as an F-4 instructor, trained as an F-5 Aggressor, earning the class "Top Gun" award upon graduation, served as part of the formation of the United States Special Operations Command, and flew the F-16 with National Guard units that stand air defense alerts along the East and Gulf Coasts. He directed the last Soviet Bear Bomber flying reconnaissance missions along the East Coast during their final deployment to Cuba. He served 26 years in the Air Force, retiring in September 1992. During his remarkable service, he achieved more than 2500 flying hours and many military decorations.

After military retirement, he began a civilian career with Lockheed Martin as an engineer on the F-22 aircraft program in Marietta, Georgia, developing the next generation of fighter aircraft. He retired from Lockheed in February 2010. Spence had dabbled in genealogy research for many years and in retirement pursued this hobby with vigor. He is the author of a book titled Samuel Spencer of Virginia, Descendants and Related Families, which is in the Library of Congress. His work on a Wilkinson book will give that family a wonderful platform to write their family history. He also took up golf and proudly displayed his hole-in-one plaque from Indian Hills Country Club in Marietta. He was an avid sailor and enjoyed his role as captain of Best Friends, a 50-foot sailing yacht he owned for many years with his wife, Dorcas. The boat was aptly named as he and Dorcas were each other's best friend, sailing, laughing and loving each other for nearly 25 years.

Spence and Dorcas moved to Winter Springs, Florida, in 2016 and were enjoying retirement as a couple, traveling and treasuring every moment together.

His greatest pride was his son, Spencer Jr. He was proud of his education and career achievements, but most importantly he was proud of the man he has become.

He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Dorcas Goodwin Wilkinson of Winter Springs, Fla.; his son Spencer Jr. of Manassas, Va.; his brother and sister-in-law Robert A. and Mary Lee Wilkinson of Chantilly, Va., his brother Thomas G. Wilkinson of Mechanicsville, Va.; an uncle Preston N. Spencer of Arrington, Va.; an aunt, Rhea Isla (Jacki) H. Wilkinson of Tallahassee, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews; great nieces and nephews;and cousins.

Visiting hours will be held Friday, July 5, 2019, from 2-4 p.m. at Baldwin Brothers, 1654 N. Semoran Blvd., Orlando, Fla. As was his wish, services and burial will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on a future date.

In his memory, gifts may be directed to the:

Spencer W. Wilkinson Endowment Scholarship or any fund at the VMI

Foundation, Inc. or to:

VMI Keydet Club

P.O. Box 932,

Lexington, VA 24450 or


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Published in Central Maine on July 3, 2019
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