William H. Wilkinson, ex-Easton police chief

October 26, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

William H. Wilkinson, retired chief of the Easton Police Department, died Sunday of cancer at home in the Eastern Shore community. He was 81.

Known as "Chief," he retired in 1976 after a 38-year career during which he modernized the department. He eliminated bicycles in the late 1940s when he introduced patrol cars with two-way radios. He got rid of the old-fashioned call boxes and equipped officers with walkie-talkies.

Chief Wilkinson also hired the department's first two black officers in 1958.

"He led the way. There wasn't a black officer on the force when he hired Eley Brown and me," said Capt. Walter E. Chase of Trappe, who is still with the department. "I have a lot of respect for him. He eventually promoted me to detective, and for a long time I was the only detective on the force.

"He was noted for his fairness toward those who worked for him. He was very straight, no nonsense, and a serious-minded man who never showed any partiality."

Edward Blessing, who was appointed chief in 1980, said Chief Wilkinson "was a great friend and mentor and ran the department with a sense of positiveness and aggressiveness. He laid the positive foundation that still functions in the department to this day."

Chief Wilkinson was an Easton native. He was educated in Talbot County schools and earned a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. He joined the police force as a patrolman in 1938 and was appointed chief in 1950.

He was a charter member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police in 1961 and the Eastern Shore Police Association. He was also a member of the International Chiefs of Police.

He was a 63-year member of the Easton Volunteer Fire Department and a member of American Legion Post No. 70, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5118, Easton Elks Lodge 1622 and the Talbot Country Club.

During World War II, he served in the Marine Corps aboard the USS Princeton in the Pacific.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Newnam Funeral Home, 200 S. Harrison St., Easton.

He is survived by a sister, Margaret Lister of Easton; and several nephews and nieces.

Memorial donations may be made to D.A.R.E., Easton Police Department, Easton 21601; or the Talbot County Advanced Life Support, P.O. Box 514, Easton 21601.

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