Former Sanford City Councilor Richard Wilkins, shown here in a 2012 photo, previously served as Sanford’s public works director for 16 years – 27 years total as a city employee. Wilkins, 80, died Saturday.

Former Sanford City Councilor Richard Wilkins, shown here in a 2012 photo, previously served as Sanford’s public works director for 16 years – 27 years total as a city employee. Wilkins, 80, died Saturday.

SANFORD — When it came to the town – and later, the city of Sanford – former public works director and city councilor Richard Wilkins was a storehouse of knowledge. At the same time, he was a forward thinker, colleagues said Monday, supporting projects designed to enliven Sanford’s economic base.

Wilkins, 80, whose second term as a councilor expired Dec. 31, died on Saturday.

Educated in Sanford schools, he worked a variety of jobs before being hired in 1978 as a supervisor for the Sanford Parks and Recreation Department. He was named public works director in 1989, and retired in 2005.

Five years later, when Sanford was still a town, he was elected to the council on his second bid for office. He was re-elected in 2013, the year Sanford became a city.

Some of those who served with him described Wilkins, known affectionately as “Wilkie,” as a man who spoke sparingly, had strong convictions, looked out for the taxpayer – and looked ahead.

“He was able to bring a great amount of historic knowledge from his years as Sanford’s public works director to his work on council subcommittees, the site plan committee and the dam coalition work that Sanford does with Acton and Shapleigh,” said Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy on Monday. “Dick was also strongly forward thinking, and understood that Sanford could not rest on its dreams of the past but must make investments in its future. He supported the expansion of broadband, investments in our infrastructure, and any investments that would aid in bringing economic vitality, while being always mindful of the taxpayer’s pocketbook.

“I had a great deal of personal and professional respect for Dick’s opinion, even when we disagreed. I will miss him greatly.”

“Dick Wilkins loved Sanford and Springvale, and dedicated a large portion of his life to our city,” said Councilor Joseph Hanslip. “He was a knowledgeable presence on the City Council. He didn’t speak often, but when he did, he knew what he was talking about, and was almost always spot-on. I learned a lot from Dick, and enjoyed his company. I will miss him.”

“He was a friend and a gentlemen,” said Mayor Tom Cote. “His public persona was often quiet and modest, but those of us who worked closely with him will remember his dry sense of humor, cooperative nature and strong convictions. He dedicated countless hours to our community, and he will be missed.”

According to his obituary, Wilkins was active in youth athletics over the years, volunteering for the Sanford-Springvale Little League, Sanford Babe Ruth league and the Sanford- Springvale Youth Athletic Association. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, woodworking and, in his retirement, motorcycling.

Among his survivors are his wife Helen twin sons Richard and Robert and their families, two brothers and three sisters. A private family service will be conducted in the spring.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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