Henry Wilkerson turns 101
Coweta resident Henry Neal Wilkerson recently celebrated his 101st birthday.
“As he turns a new leaf at age 101, he is very reflective and wishes to thank everyone for the love, help, presence, guidance and inspiration that he encountered along his journey,” said his daughter, Evelyn W. Searcy.
Wilkerson marked his 101st birthday Oct. 20, 2013.
In July 2013 Wilkerson was among four World War II veterans officially inducted as members of the Buffalo Soldiers by members of the Terry Allen Jr. American Veterans Post 910. The ceremonies took place at the Clay-Wood Community Center in Newnan.
Not many people outside of Civil War history classroom know who the Buffalo Soldiers are. In 1866 Congress established two divisions of the Buffalo Soldiers, incorporating them into the 9th and 10th cavalry. This all African-American cavalry was comprised of soldiers who took on hard fights and were considered to be some of the military’s most fearless fighters. They were known as soldiers who refused to give up.
The Buffalo Soldiers with the American Veterans are still serving the community. The soldiers “collect money to help disabled veterans, homeless veterans, any veterans,” said Charles Weldon, first vice commander of the local post, at the July ceremonies.
Wilkerson was honored by the Coweta Board of Commissioners on the occasion of his 100th birthday. He was presented with a proclamation making Oct. 20, 2012, Henry N. Wilkerson Day in Coweta County.
According to the proclamation, Wilkerson was born in Coweta County on Oct. 20, 1912, to Charles and Maggie Wilkerson. Henry was one of eight children. He attended school at McClelland Academy in Newnan and Georgia Normal College in Albany before marrying Vertie Leavel, his wife for more than 60 years before she passed. Henry and Vertie had one daughter, Evelyn Wilkerson Searcy.
Wilkerson served his country in the Army during World War II. He served in Fort Benning and was a sergeant and instructor during his time in the service.
He returned to Coweta after his time in the Army and became a painter, carpenter and “handyman,” establishing a business and beautifying properties all over Coweta until his retirement. Wilkerson developed a reputation as a perfectionist with a sharp sense of humor and a skill for methodically solving problems, described as “common sense intertwined with creativity.”