Soldier. Journalist. OWU Fiji.
These are just a few of the roles played with distinction by Cecil J. “Scoop” Wilkinson, Class of 1917.
Born in East Palestine, OH, a small town near the Pennsylvania state line, Wilkinson entered Ohio Wesleyan in 1914, serving as historian, treasurer, president of the Theta Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta (founded in 1869), president of the interfraternity council, and editor of the campus newspaper. A fellow Fiji at the time called him “helpful to the less gifted, unawed by the pretentious, and relentless with the sluggard.”
After graduation, Wilkinson enlisted in the Fourth Ohio Infantry as a private in the 166th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division during World War I. He soon convinced his commanding officer to let him publish a newspaper, “The Rainbow Reveille,” for his unit, the first of such “front-line journalism” to be published overseas during WWI.
When Wilkinson returned to his hometown post-war, he married and became editor of The East Palestine Daily Leader, and editor of The Phi Gamma Delta magazine. In 1929, and in response to calls he move to Washington, D.C., to organize the central office, he, his wife, and two children left Ohio so he could take on the role of the organization’s office manager. Soon thereafter, he served as Fiji’s first executive secretary, taking the lead in expanding the central Fiji office from a one-room operation to establishing the organization’s international headquarters office. He went on to edit the Fiji magazine for 36 years, publishing 251 issues.
In 1961, when Wilkinson passed away, Phi Delta Gamma presented its first Wilkinson Award, a recognition of an outstanding senior in the United States and Canada. Memme Onwudiwe ’15 is the second OWU recipient of the award. The first was Derek Dickey ’97, who majored in history and is now chief operating officer of Colgate Consulting Group, LLC, in Bethesda, MD.