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Albert R. Wilkerson Jr., former St. Paul’s School for Boys English teacher and lacrosse player, dies

Albert R Wilkerson Jr.
Albert R Wilkerson Jr.

Albert R. “Wilkie” Wilkerson Jr., a retired St. Paul’s School for Boys teacher who helped develop merchandise for left-handed persons, died of sepsis Jan. 6 at Stella Maris Hospice. The former Lutherville resident was 84.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Guilford on Suffolk Road, he was the son of Dr. Albert R. Wilkerson Sr., an internist, and Eleanor Moss, a homemaker.

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He attended the Calvert School and was a 1956 graduate of the Gilman School. He spent summers at Camp Wallula in New London, New Hampshire, as a camper and later as a counselor and archery coach.

He earned a degree at Colgate University and was awarded an honorable mention as a lacrosse midfielder in the 1950 All American honors.

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He received a master’s degree in education from what is now Towson University and was a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. As a young man, he was a probation officer.

He served in the Army National Guard and was a marksman.

“He was renowned for his peeled potatoes and accolades for his mashed potatoes as a cook,” said his son, Russell Wilkerson. “He would proudly tell his children, ‘An army marches on it stomach.’ ”

As a student at Colgate, he met his future wife, Kathryn Hope.

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“They were introduced through a blind date set up by a friend. My dad impressed my mom by driving his convertible VW standing up. One of his many talents. She would soon become his co-passenger for life,” said his son, who lives in The Woodlands, Texas.

Mr. Wilkerson taught English and reading and coached at Boys’ Latin School and St. Paul’s School for Boys for more than 30 years.

“He listened to the kids,” said Dyson Ehrhardt, a Boys’ Latin associate headmaster emeritus. “He’s give them all the time in the world, and he was a great listener. He always came through with good advice. He made classes fun. You wanted to go to his classes.”

His daughter, Hope Pezzulla of Mays Chapel, said, “My dad was a special teacher and coach. As a teacher, he could be strict, but he always made the extra time for his students. He never came home early from school.”

She also said, “He was a pioneer in the understanding of middle school boys. Even when it was not diagnosed, he identified what we now call attention deficit disorder and dyslexia. He had a deep innate understanding of these conditions and identified with his students.”

She said if his students were growing restless, he would take his class outside for an unscheduled quick recreation.

“He used it get that angst out,” she said.

After he retired from St. Paul’s, he and his wife opened a catalog business called Lefties Unlimited. They located and sold merchandise for left-handed people, operating the catalog business from their home.

They later temporarily moved to Miami, where they opened a cart at The Rouse Company’s Bayside Marketplace, selling left-handed merchandise.

Mr. Wilkerson was a member of the Orton Society and helped children with dyslexia, which he experienced throughout his life.

He was an American Red Cross blood donor.

“He was a universal donor, and he maxed out in giving every year,” his son said. “It was a way for him to help people.”

At Thanksgiving, he used ceramic crocks to make an applejack-based beverage he called Uncle Doty’s.

“He collected the ingredients and we, as a family, watched him pour the liquor in and assisted him in pouring in the sugar base with 12 apples with 12 cloves in each apple,” said another daughter, Wendy Wilkerson Thomas of Bel Air. “We stirred it and tasted it every Sunday and drank it on Christmas Eve. My father loved having people over. He loved to entertain.”

She said he was a musician and played accordion player and whistled.

“He brought joy and happiness to all around him,” she said. “At some point in the night, he’s pull out his accordion and play his one and only song, ‘It’s a Great Wide Wonderful World.’ ”

He was a member of the Towson Elks and performed in Paint and Powder Club shows. He also played ukulele at nursing homes.

In addition to his son and daughters, survivors include his wife of nearly 60 years, Kathryn Wagner Hope, a substitute teacher; eight grandchildren: and two great grandsons.

A funeral Mass was offered at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, where he was a member.

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