Celebrating the life of Gary Wayne Wilkerson
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So where do I begin? How can I put into words a man who wore so many treasured qualities so well? Well, let’s start where his spirit was fed. His nickname at church was "The Professor". He was a diligent teacher of the Bible with a heart of gold. And if he told you he was your friend, you could take that to the bank. He would bleed for you. He wouldn't forget you or neglect you. Everyone was important to him. He knew that every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past. He was quick witted, creative, and given enough time he could work on anything - a true jack of all trades. And he was quick to tell you a joke that just skimmed the border of what was socially acceptable. And it didn't matter where you were.
He was a man that could be trusted to give it to you straight. He would rather bleed for the truth than be paid for a lie. And he was a hopelessly romantic husband and the kind of father that if God let you pick one out before your life began; you would pick him. He truly was the kind of man whose words carried weight. You never doubted him. And He was willing to donate his time, advice, and compassion to others. He was hungry for the truth, and he wasn't content to pass through life just being aimless and pacified. Which is what drove him to his sincere relationship with God.
Thanks to Jan, prayer, and Gary's hunger for the truth; his youthful rebellious nature was transformed into a courageous warrior for Christ. And for 45 years, Jan and Gary's marriage was a testament of love and devotion. Countless family members and friends have echoed my thoughts on how their loving marriage impacted them. Witnessing it inspired me, taught me, and challenged me to reach for that level of love. And that's a gift he is still giving.
And as a father he was always in our corner. He was our superman, and any boogie-man or bad-guy didn't stand a chance in our eyes. We felt protected, loved, and respected. He was a gentle warrior that was always willing to pass down advice, even if I didn't like it at the time. He was an impenetrable safety net that gave us the courage to stretch ourselves in life. He truly was and is a man I hope to become.
As a young man Gary was a wild eyed, easy to grin, beach bum at heart. I remember being in awe as he told me his high school prom was on the beach. It just seemed like a fairy tale to a Simpson boy. He was fearless in the ocean; I remember Dad nearly giving my mother a stroke as he would take me and J.D. past the 3rd and 4th sandbar without blinking an eye.
That fearlessness started at an early age. He was one of the smaller kids growing up, so he had to fight daily. It didn't take him and his friends long to make a sport out of fist fighting. My brother and I would sit back in awe as he would tell stories of his youthful escapades. Chicks dig scars and the man had scars, that's for sure. But that fearlessness transcended into all aspects of his life. He never settled or took no for an answer. If he saw a goal, he went for it and achieved it. His father, who put himself through college picking peaches around the time of the great depression, instilled a work ethic in him that was unparalleled. Gary was younger than I am now when he worked his way up to being the senior procurement manager in a multi-million dollar engineering firm - from the shovel to the boardroom. And when he decided to leave that career and try to open a business in Leesville, Louisiana, engineering firms from all over the country were trying to persuade him out of it. He was still getting calls from company heads begging him to come back even after Back to Nature was up and running.
Gary and Jan started their next adventure and opened Back to Nature in 1996 and it is still serving Vernon Parish today. Gary and Jan worked tirelessly to create a business from the ground up that genuinely cared for their customers like friends. I remember my mother telling me, “These people will become your friends." She was talking about their customers. Gary and Jan's vision and hard work created a legacy of passion and love for this community. And I know that we are all blessed to be a part of Gary's life and the joy he created.
So, Gary's life was, and still is, filled with adventure, love, and passion. You see, to quote from the best. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not parish, but have everlasting life." Everlasting Life. Philippians calls our heavenly bodies, "a new glorified body." So, for a short time our relationship with him has changed or been slightly modified. So, to say, he's in Paris and we're temporarily in London for a bit. But make no mistake, we are both alive and well and one day we will all meet up, and what a story he will have to tell us. And no doubt he will have a joke or two that will have old St. Peter blushing.
Thank you and God bless
Funeral services for Gary will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 26, 2022, at Simpson Assembly of God Church with Reverend Tully Burns officiating. Burial will follow in Welcome Cemetery under the direction of Jeane’s Funeral Service. A visitation will be held at the church on Friday, February 25th from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
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116 Shadywood Drive
Simpson, LA 71474
116 Shadywood Drive
Simpson, LA 71474
Welcome Cemetery Road
Simpson, LA 71474