In Memory of Harold F. Wilkins PhD

Dr. Harold Franklin Wilkins passed away from COVID-19 in Baldwin, WI on 1/7/2021. Survived by his devoted partner Bryan Gjevre, extended family and many colleagues and friends. Born in Cobden, Illinois, Harold loved books, bookstores/libraries, newspapers, poetry, letters and flowers. He enjoyed good coffee, new restaurants, Classical MPR, and a good story. Harold received his horticulture doctorate from the University of Illinois, and spent his career teaching and mentoring at Cornell, U of FL, U of MN, Ohio State and consulted all over the world. Beloved teacher, he was devoted to helping all of his students reach their goals, he proudly “fathered” 11 Ph D students. As the author of more than 200 publications, the recipient of numerous awards, the guest speaker at many seminars and conferences, his impact on the floriculture industry is unquestionable. Harold influenced horticulture globally; he traveled to Israel, The Netherlands, Russia, Japan, South Africa, Chile, among other countries to collect information for his research. As a retirement project in 2005, he and Bryan purchased a 9-acre property near Baldwin, WI and named it Goldfinch Flower Farm. They grew and sold beautiful and unique flowers to local florists and the Mill City Farmers Market. In addition to research, Harold taught Floral Design and his bouquets were always exquisite. He consistently shared his positive energy and concern; he was described by many as unwaveringly sweet and kind. Shortly before passing, Harold told Bryan he was going “upstairs to recuperate.” A Celebration of his Life will be held this summer, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN. Burial will be in Anna, IL. Many thanks to all healthcare workers during this pandemic – your dedication is unparalleled. We wish to extend our deep gratitude to his medical team at the Baldwin Care Center Campus and Western Wisconsin Health in Baldwin, WI. In Harold’s memory, support your local florists and garden centers.

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Harold F.'s Tribute Wall

Tributes (10):

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    • There was this man sitting at the back of his stall at the Mill City market just making small bouquets and chatting with all comers…not at all what I expected from the description by fellow flower growers at the St. Paul market. They spoke reverently of him as their beloved mentor and a world renown authority. And Harold was all of that and pure joy. Bryan, I am so sorry for your loss.
      Rest In Peace dear Harold.

    • My friend Karen and I looked forward every week to flowers and conversation at Mill City. Harold had a wonderful sense of whimsy and a very generous nature. He would sneak me extra flowers when he thought Brian wasn’t looking!
      I have never seen such beautiful tulips as they had; tulips will continue to remind me of those sweet and sunny mornings. So sorry for your enormous loss,Brian.
      May God rest your sweet soul, Harold.
      Victoria P.

    • Bryan,
      We were SO sadden to hear the news about Harold’s passing given how we missed our Christmas get together at Ken’s and Alan’s this past December. It will not be the same. We so admired what a beautiful, caring and thoughtful relationship you had with each other – unconditional! We’ve missed you through this pandemic year, and look forward to reconnect soon. We are all keeping you in our thoughts in the days to come. He was such a magnificent human being – we so enjoyed his company and will miss him deeply! Deepest heartfelt sympathies, Keiko Young and Jeanne and Roger Ecklund

    • Harold was my fathers only sibling, I was his only nephew. My family and I will miss him greatly. It is upsetting to me that he was only days away from getting vaccinated. I am sure he would want us all to get vaccinated as soon as possible, although he told me he wanted to sell his place in line.
      His impact in his field of horticulture was immense and will live on after him. We grieve with Brian and his many friends, may he Rest In Peace.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of Harold’s passing. I am a frequent market visitor and a few years ago Brian & Harold allowed me the opportunity to stop by the farm while I was in WI as I had never seen a flower farm. I got to spend some time with Harold prepping flowers in the kitchen and he was such a delight. His presence will be greatly missed and my sympathy to Brian and family.

    • I am a frequent customer of the Mill City farmers market and a few years ago I was looking for flowers to bring to my mothers grave for Mother’s Day. I saw Harold’s flowers and started speaking with him about my mother and her love of lilacs that’s when he introduced me to the Betsy Ross lilac and to this day thanks to Harold I bring those to the cemetery for my mother on Mother’s Day. Thank you Harold for your wonderful spirit and kindness through your beautiful flowers and warm heart. You will be missed!

    • I am so sorry to hear of Harold’s passing. I moved to Saint Anthony Park in the the early 1980’s and had the good fortune of living next door to Harold for a number of years. His warmth, kindness, amazing sense of humor and beautiful way with flowers will all be remembered. I loved having the chance to see Harold at Mill City and know that his presence will be greatly missed.

    • So sorry to hear of Harold’s passing. What an incredibly interesting person he was. I am so glad I was able to know him. Much sympathy to Brian and his family.