ROCKFORD, IL - International pro-family leader Richard G. Wilkins died on Monday after a short illness.
World Congress of Families Founder Dr. Allan C. Carlson, who worked closely with Wilkins in organizing World Congress of Families II in Geneva in 1999, observed: "Richard was one of the greatest and most energetic advocates of the natural family. He was particularly effective on legal matters involving the family and the United Nations."
Carlson added: "Richard was a vital partner in making the Geneva Congress the success that it was. World Congress of Families II set the stage and established standards for all of our future Congresses, including World Congress of Families VI, held in Madrid in May."
Richard's remarks at WCF II, "Recognizing Our Shared Commitment to the Family," inspired many pro-family leaders to action and are still as relevant today as they were then.
Jesus Hernandez, organizer of the Mexico City World Congress of Families, added: "Richard was kind, open and loyal, a friend, a dedicated husband and father, and a man who fought to defend his ideals: love of God, love of mankind and love for the family. He was tireless in promoting the family perspective. In Mexico, we owe him the zeal and example he brought to World Congress of Families III in 2004 and the International Colloquium on the Family of the Migrant Worker in 2009. We will miss his enthusiasm and his kindness. May he rest in peace and may God bless his family and friends."
Besides his involvement in World Congresses in Geneva and Mexico City and many regional WCF events, Dr. Wilkins was actively involved in WCF IV (Warsaw, 2007), also delivering a plenary speech.
In his long and distinguished career, Wilkins was variously an Assistant U.S. Solicitor General in the Reagan Administration (arguing eight cases before the Supreme Court), a professor of law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University and director of the World Family Policy Center at BYU.
Starting with his participation in the 1996 United Nations Habitat Conference in Istanbul, (where he argued passionately against "same-sex unions"), Richard's work increasingly focused on defending the family in the international arena.
Besides his leadership of the World Policy Forum, he campaigned tirelessly for Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution (defining marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman), which was approved by voters in 2004.
Following his retirement from the BYU Law School, Wilkins became the Managing Director of the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development in Qatar. Because of Dr. Wilkins work, The Doha Institute, The Howard Center, Family First Foundation and United Families International co-published the book, "The Family and the MDG's: Using Family Capital to Achieve The 8 Millennium Development Goals." Susan Roylance, Director of International Policy at the Howard Center, produced the book with a grant from the Doha Institute and worked closely with Richard who was a co-author for this important publication. In the "Forward," Dr. Wilkins details the benefits to society of a stable family life for all ages. He also gives information concerning the tremendous costs associated with family instability, both to individuals and society as a whole. He issues a "call to action," citing numerous sources to encourage readers to focus on the power of families and the value of family capital.
Dr. Wilkins was also a talented thespian. At the time of his death, he was in rehearsals for what would have been his 28th. consecutive performance as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" at Salt Lake City's Hale Centre Theater. He also regularly played Tevye in a local production of "Fiddler On The Roof." Richard and his wife did a scene from "Fiddler" at the closing session of the Geneva World Congress of Families.
World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs said: "Richard was a constant source of hope and joy as well as an inspiration to his many friends in the international pro-family movement. He could argue passionately for supporting the natural family through international law, and then delight us with an amusing anecdote which ended with his contagious laugher. To say he will be sorely missed is an understatement."
Richard and his wife Melany have four children and eight grandchildren.