David B. Wilkens, 36, school instructor

July 16, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

David Benjamin Wilkens, whose battle against multiple sclerosis inspired an award in his name at the school where he was a mathematics and computer instructor, died Tuesday at his Catonsville home. He was 36.

Mr. Wilkens taught for the past seven years at Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville and was faculty adviser for the high school's newspaper, the Anchor.

The school established the David B. Wilkens Courage Award in 1995. It is given annually to a student in recognition of courage under trial and hardship.

"He was remarkable," said Sister Helen Marie, the school's principal. "He got to school early and stayed late. Even as his health declined, and he was on a walker or [in] a wheelchair, he was never bitter or had any self-pity. His presence spoke volumes to the entire school."

She said his cheerful, undaunted attitude and constant volunteer presence made a "tremendous" impact upon the lives of the students.

When the effects of multiple sclerosis kept him from classroom teaching two years ago, he became a substitute teacher and volunteer tutor. He still attended student athletic games and drama productions.

He self-published his autobiography -- "I'm Not Done Yet!" -- two years ago. The book, dedicated to his family and the faculty and students at Mount de Sales, was written to encourage all "to live life to the fullest and to make decisions throughout their lives based on love for God and love for one another."

"He was a gentle soul and a dedicated teacher," said Father Michael Roach, president of the Mount de Sales board. "He was imbued with the spirit of the school."

Born in Washington, Mr. Wilkens was a graduate of Severna Park High School and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he received a degree in computer science in 1985.

He was an ardent San Francisco 49ers football fan and frequently exhibited his 1987 Buick Grand National at auto shows.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 1: 30 p.m. today at Mount de Sales, 700 Academy Road.

Mr. Wilkens is survived by his mother and stepfather, Marcia and Mike Wilkens of Severn; his father, Dalton Maynard of Clements in St. Mary's County; two brothers, Ron Wilkens of Huntingdon, N.Y., and Daniel Wilkens of Middletown, Del.; and a sister, Sylvia Poore of Severna Park.

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