May 21, 1927 - October 28, 2016


John Francis Potter Wilkinson, 89, of Sartell, Minnesota passed away on Friday, October 28, 2016 at home. Visitation will be held at Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in Sauk Rapids from 4-8 PM on November 3. The funeral service will be held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Sartell at noon on November 4.

John was born in Monroe County, Michigan on May 2, 1927 to John & Stella (Iott) Wilkinson. He enlisted in the Navy in 1945, shortly before VE Day. He later served in the Marine Reserves. John was stationed on the Aleutian Island of Shemya as an Air Force Lieutenant during the Korean War. He earned an engineering degree at Colorado State College (now University) in Fort Collins, Colorado.

On May 1, 1952, John Married Randine "Deanie" Jacobson in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and promptly began building a family. After moving to several locations in Minnesota and California, John and his brood finally settled in Sartell in 1970.

John’s engineering career spanned seven decades. He helped build roads and bridges, dams and levees, power plants and numerous other public works. Often he had to leave home for months at a time to do his job, including two extended trips to Saudi Arabia. In the 1980s he went into private practice and worked with many local contractors and builders. He retired in July of this year.

When John wasn't working, he was probably doing something that looked like work. He was a big-project guy. In his spare time, he devised detailed plans to move water across the Rocky Mountains and fix the flood-prone Minnesota River. His ideas included underground mass transit in the Twin Cities and trans-continental waterways to connect the Atlantic to the Pacific.

John was preceded in death by his wife Deanie, his son Anthony, two brothers and his parents. He is survived by children Blake (Rita), Colin (Jill), Drew, Eric, Forrest, Gavin (Karlyn), and Heidi; siblings Miriam Sherman, Yvonne Estrella, Charles, William, and Donna Knaggs; six grandchildren, and his first great-grandchild (due in November).