Robert J. Wilkins, Jr. “Bob,” was born October 13, 1932, and was a lifelong resident of Atascadero.

Bob’s grandfather, Harold J. Wilkins, was E.G. Lewis’s bookkeeper in the early 1920’s. Mr. Lewis was the founder of Atascadero. Harold sent Bob’s father, Bob Wilkins, Sr., and his uncle, Joe Wilkins, to Cal Poly to learn the printing trade. Bob Wilkins, Sr., and Joe Wilkins worked at various local newspapers and eventually landed a job with the Atascadero News in the Printery building. During this period, Bob helped with multiple tasks like sweeping and putting type away; he emptied the wastebasket for Marguerite Travis. She was an editor for Atascadero News and the author of Birth of Atascadero. Bob would reprint the book in the 1960s for the Atascadero Historical Society. The newspaper moved out of the Printery building around 1945 with the help of Bob’s Dad and Uncle. After the move, they started their own business, Wilkins Studio. Bob Jr.’s dad continued his passion for photography while Joe was proficient with the letterpress. On occasion, Bob Jr. helped his uncle with the print shop, and in 1951 took over the printing business.

Bob’s mother, Helen Reynolds Wilkins, arrived in Atascadero around 1915 with her mother, Emma, and father, Stephen Reynolds, along with brother Cliff. Stephen and Emma ran the Eaglet Mercantile, where the Moose Lodge is currently located. Cliff eventually became the Bellhop Captain at the Atascadero La Plaza. When Bob Sr. and Helen Wilkins wanted to go out on the town, they would leave young Bob Jr. with his uncle Cliff, who would keep him in room number one for the evening while he did his bellhop duties.

In 1949, Bob joined the Naval Reserves and served for three years. He then met the love of his life, Bonnie Lyn Gates, a fourth-generation North County resident, and they married in 1952. Bob and Bonnie grew the printing business known as Wilkins Creative Printing while starting their family.

Bob was involved in many organizations throughout Atascadero and San Luis Obispo County and had numerous accomplishments:

President of the Businessman Association in 1961

Received an award for being the outstanding president of the Jaycees in 1962 and 1963.

Businessman of the Year in 1971 and 1974

He served as the first mayor of Atascadero in 1979, served on the city council for five years, and helped guide the city’s formation.

Chamber Citizen of the Month in 1976

He was president of the Board of Directors of Atascadero Main Street in 2003.

Colony Days Royalty in 2003

Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2004

A life-long member of the Chamber of Commerce

San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association dedicated the 18th annual Cattlemen’s Western Art Show and Sale to Bob and Bonnie in 2011. Bob and Bonnie supported the Cattlemen Western Art Show for over 30 years.

Bob supported Hospice of San Luis Obispo County and donated his time and printing. In addition, he supported the Faces of Freedom Memorial by providing printing for them. In October 2023, Bob was named Honorary Scoutmaster BSA Atascadero Historical Troop 51

Bob enjoyed many aspects of his life, including his passion for photography, in which he captured the realism of his subjects. While Bob was busy with his photography, Bonnie discovered her natural talent with her watercolor and acrylic paintings. Their interest in art took them on many exciting and fun travels in their motorhome with family and friends. Bob always had his camera, and Bonnie had her paintbrushes! As many locals know, Bob was passionate about his roses and garden. Bob was well known by many citizens who would recognize Bob walking around the community. In his nineties, Bob was still walking two miles a day.

With all of Bob’s accomplishments and involvement in the community, he became known as Mr. Atascadero.

Robert J. Wilkins, Jr., passed away on February 25, 2024, at his home, surrounded by family. He is preceded in death by nephew Ricky Landis, sister Sally Sylvia, and wife Bonnie. He is survived by his sister Denise Crabtree of Shelbyville, Tennessee, sister Nancy Kerr of Atascadero, daughter Kerrie and son-in-law Tom McNerlin of Mesquite, Nevada, daughter Joyce Wilkins of Atascadero, son Jim Wilkins of Creston, and daughter Jane and son-in-law Bob Hilty of Santa Barbara. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held on June 8, 2024, at the Atascadero Elks Lodge. Doors open at 1:00 p.m., and the service starts promptly at 1:30 p.m. In Lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Wilshire Hospice, 277 South St., Suite R, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401