James R. Wilkins, Jr. | Handley 100th Notable
James R. Wilkins, Jr. ’63

Jimmy Wilkins has made a difference at John Handley High School, in the Winchester community, and in the world.

He was born at Bolling Army Air Field near the end of World War II. His family moved to the Winchester area after his father’s discharge and Jim Wilkins, Sr. opened Wilkins ShoeCenter on Loudoun Street in 1947.

Jimmy attended Handley from 4th through 12th grade. He excelled in high school and was a team leader in football, basketball, and track. He earned All-State honors in three sports, a feat matched at Handley only by Lang Campbell in 2000.

He attended Randolph Macon College where he was captain of the track and cross country teams before graduating from the University of Maryland in 1967. He returned to Winchester to work in the family businesses, Wilkins ShoeCenter and the Wilkins Development Corporation.

Jimmy was President of the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and President of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. He served seven years on the Winchester City Council.

He was appointed to the Shenandoah University Board of Trustees in 1980. He chaired the university’s $25 M capital fund drive for its athletic and event center.

His vision and financial support led to the naming of the center in his honor 2017.

He was a member of the Winchester Medical Center Board of Directors for 31 years during which time he guided the growth of the center as it moved from Stewart Street to Amherst Street.  He co-chaired the $10 M campaign to build a cancer center at WMC.

He was named Vice President of the Handley Board of Trustees in 1989.

Jimmy has been a director of the Winchester Equipment Company, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation Board of Trustees, the Bank of Clarke County Foundation, the Salvation Army, Little League Football, the Judges Athletic Association, and the Virginia Retail Merchants Association.

He continues to lead his family’s foundation that donates to numerous charities and organizations in the local area each year.

With a strong interest in the outdoors, Jimmy was the Frederick County Tree Farmer of the Year in 1987 and the American Tree Farming System’s Virginia Tree Farmer of the Year 1998. He was named to the Virginia Wild Turkey Federation Conservationist Hall of Fame in 2001.

In 2005, the Virginia Retail Merchants Association named him Virginia Retailer of the Year. He was named the Top of Virginia Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2014.

James R. Wilkins, Jr. received the John Handley High School "Medal of Honor" for his support of the school system in 2006. In 2009, the football stadium was named for him in recognition of his $1 M contribution toward the school's renovation.

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