Tribute to Richard Wilkins

By E. Douglas Clark


Richard the Lionhearted is what one colleague called him, and for good reason: Even more than a great family man, Richard G. Wilkins was a fearless defender of families around the world. He was a brilliant international lawyer, a trusted diplomat and organizer, a willing advisor to many organizations, and for me personally, a mentor and friend.

One evening over a decade ago, Richard and I walked out of the United Nations after working together at a conference that had the potential to dramatically affect the institution of the family. I was new to the work and eager to learn. As we strolled across Manhattan, Richard shared with me his private thoughts and feelings about the significance of the family policy battles looming in the United Nations. What l learned that evening made an indelible impression that changed the course of my life and career. In the ensuing years, I had the further privilege of working with Richard at numerous key events and conferences around the world.

No one has done more to defend and protect the family than Richard, who, among his many accomplishments, headed the BYU law school's World Family Policy Center and its annual forum, a gathering of over a hundred international diplomats and policymakers for three days of lectures and networking. Richard was later invited to become the founding director of the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development in Doha, Qatar.

Since Richard's passing on November 26, 2012, accolades from colleagues have poured in. "Richard's contributions were large," said John Klink, "so large that they constitute a beautiful and lasting gift to humanity and a magnificent example of a life brilliantly lived." Allan Carlson called him "one of the greatest and most energetic advocates of the natural family. He was particularly effective on legal matters involving the family at the United Nations." And for Bill Saunders, Richard was "perhaps even an irreplaceable man."

Knowing Richard, I cannot help but think that the tribute he would most want would be our renewed effort to preserve, protect, and promote the family as society's sure foundation and the hope of the world.

Read obituary in Deseret News

Read Austin Ruse's tribute to Richard


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