Herman L. Wilkes, age 81, of Surrency died Thursday, January 28, 2021 at Cedar Plantation in Metter.
Mr. Wilkes was born April 15, 1939 in Siloam, Georgia to the late Amos T. Wilkes and the late Nanna Lou Danner Wilkes. He overcame a lot of adversity in life and never complained. He had the best and most positive attitude of anyone. He was the second youngest of 12 children and ran away from home (in Siloam, Georgia) at 12 years old. He got a job pumping gas in Swainsboro, Georgia. As part of his pay, he negotiated to sleep in the back office of the gas station in a sleeping bag. He got a second job (at 12 or 13 years old) cutting meat at the local Piggly Wiggly. It was this job that ultimately changed his life when the local high school football coach came in to get some meat and noticed a 13 or 14 year old kid that looked pretty strong. The Coach got him to enroll in the 9th grade at Swainsboro High School. He let him move in with him and helped him get caught up on school and put him on the football team. He became a high school star and ended up getting a football scholarship to Auburn University where he played four years. He was the starting kicker and also played offensive guard and linebacker. Legendary Coach Vince Dooley was the freshman football coach at Auburn when he was a freshman.
While at Auburn, Mr. Wilkes met Katherine “Kathy” Humbracht. They got married right after he graduated and had their first son, Herman L. Wilkes, Jr. A short time later, Mr. Wilkes entered the military and was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where their second son, Robert Wilkes, was born.
Mr. Wilkes left the military and got a job teaching P.E. and coaching High School Football at Brunswick High School. He coached for 2 or 3 years before a local insurance salesman named Pete Coleman talked him into opening up a second Cotton States Insurance Company in Brunswick. He went on to operate this insurance agency for many years as well as announcing the Glynn Academy High School football games for the local radio station (WMOG) in Brunswick.
His first wife, Kathy, died of cancer after they had been married for about 10 years. He remarried Seena Joy Tillman and they had a son together a few years later, Thomas Blake Wilkes. They remained married for many years until Seena passed away unexpectedly. Herman never remarried again but he definitely never quit flirting!
Mr. Wilkes had many medical issues throughout his entire life from having lung surgery soon after getting out of the military, to being put into an environmentally safe and sterile room for over a year so his stomach lining could heal. He fought though all the sickness and worked out every day religiously, both walking and with free weights, until about 10 years ago when he got Dementia. The dementia got progressively worse until he needed constant medical care.
Mr. Wilkes’ family expresses deep gratitude to Karen Chapman and her staff at Cedar Plantation in Metter, Georgia for the wonderful care they provided over the last few years.
Survivors include his sons, Herman Wilkes, Jr. of Dubai, UAE, Robert Wilkes of Atlanta, and Blake Wilkes of Brunswick; four grandchildren also survive and he has two grandchildren on the way.
A graveside service will be held Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery with Rev. R.W. Warren and Karen Chapman officiating.
The family will receive friends at the cemetery from 1:15 until the funeral hour.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Swain Funeral Home.
To send flowers to Herman L. Wilkes, Sr.'s family, please visit our floral store.