Robert P. Wilkins, Sr. was born September 10, 1933, in Jesup, GA, to parents Ransom L. Wilkins and Sarah “Sally” Pearce Wilkins. He lived his earlier years in Jesup and then moved to Florence, SC, to live with his aunt and uncle, Marion C. Wallace and Anne P. Wallace. He graduated from Porter Military Academy in Charleston, SC, in 1950. He received a B.S. degree in 1953 from the University of South Carolina, followed by his J.D. degree from the USC School of Law in 1955 and an LL.M. from Georgetown Law School in 1957. He served in the U.S. Army Central Intelligence Corp. from 1955 to 1956 and then became an attorney with the Office of the Secretary of Army in Washington until the end of 1957.
Wilkins returned to SC in 1957 and became the Trust Officer at the First National Bank in Columbia until 1960. He then practiced law solo for a few years, later joining McLain, Sherrill, Walker, Townsend and Wilkins, which later became the McKay Law Firm. In 1988, he went of counsel with Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough until 2003.
Wilkins served as chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section and on the Association’s House of Delegates. He was a life fellow of the S.C. Bar Foundation, serving as its president from 1987–1988. He was a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and American College of Tax Counsel, and fellow and trustee of the College of Law Practice Management. Bob was actively involved in the Richland County Bar Association, Lexington County Bar Association, S.C. Bar, S.C. Bar Foundation and the ABA.
He received the Complete Lawyer Platinum Award from the USC School of Law Alumni Association; Diamond Circle Award from the USC College of Mass Communication and Information Studies; Samuel S. Smith Award, the highest award bestowed by the ABA Law Practice Division; and the Order of the Palmetto.
Among Bob’s most valued accomplishments was being founder and editor of Sandlapper Magazine. He was also editor and/or author of a number of legal publications, including founding editor of the South Carolina Lawyer. In 2003 Bob wrote his final book, 50 Things to Do With the Rest of Your Life, which was a gift of love from him to all of us.
Bob was involved in many civic and community organizations. He was a member of the Columbia Jaycees and active in Richland and Lexington County Republican politics during the 1960s and 70s. He was a member of the Columbia Sailing Club and actively sailed with his children and friends. He was a member and former chair of Lexington District One School Board and the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden Commission. He was a founding member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Lexington.
He was a long-time supporter of the University of South Carolina, never missing a basketball, baseball or football game.
Robert P. Wilkins, Sr. died on January 18, 2013. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Rose T. Wilkins; his children, Robert P. Wilkins, Jr., Sarah W. Weiss and Anne W. Brooks; and eight grandchildren, Gregory and Reese Wilkins; Wallace, Wilkins and Robert Weiss; and CJ, Baker and Anna Brooks. He was predeceased by his son, Chisolm W. Wilkins.