Douglas D. Wilkinson
Attorney at Law

Brigham Young High School
Class of 1961

Dallin H. Oaks, President, BYH Class of 1950
Douglas D. Wilkinson, Class of 1961

Douglas D. Wilkinson, BYH Class of 1961, attended all three of the BYU laboratory schools on the Lower Campus during the time that his father, Ernest L. Wilkinson, served as BYU's President (1951 to 1971).

While Doug had the experience of growing up in the University’s Presidents Home located on a highly visible portion of Upper Campus from about age seven until he reached young adulthood, he did not consider that to be a particularly advantageous arrangement because of its distance from friends and families of whom he was very fond.

He graduated magna cum laude from BYU in 1968 with a BA degree in Political Science, with highest honors in the Honors Program, and as a nominee for valedictorian of his college.

Wilkinson originally chose to attend law school at Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley. Just before he was to begin at Berkeley, however, he contracted a serious illness that would have prevented him from attending classes on Berkeley's semester system for three or four weeks.

While disappointed at that development, however, he learned that the University of Utah College of Law was at that time on a quarter system, and would not begin its law school classes until several week later. He decided to transfer to the University of Utah College of Law since the delay would give him adequate time to recover and convalesce.

Any initial disappointment due his decision was paradoxically transformed into a change of great fortune when he met his future wife, Rosalie Gilbert, at the University of Utah. Rosalie was teaching at Provo High School. As a result of this experience, Doug believes that some clouds do have silver linings.

Douglas began legal employment as an associate with the prestigious firm of Ray Quinney and Nebeker in Salt Lake City. After a short period of inital training, he was given an unusual and heavy responsibility for a young lawyer in the firm. He was assigned to represent Gulf Oil Corporation, Sun Oil, Diamond Shamrock, and a number of other large natural resource clients in matters of great importance.

Representing Gulf Oil in his first trial as a lawyer, he found that an action against Gulf had been instituted by a prominent Salt Lake attorney on behalf of a well-known Salt Lake City client, alleging that Gulf Oil had been negligent in cleaning up lands on which Gulf previously had commercially producing oil wells, and which it had since shut down.

If the action by the plaintiff prevailed, Gulf would be liable for many millions of dollars on the grounds that its work in cleaning up well sites was negligent and insufficient.

Wilkinson entered the case so well prepared that he was successful in obtaining an almost unheard of result. Gulf Oil, realizing the importance of the precedent that would be set by an adverse jury decision, had flown 21 employees and experts from all over the globe to Salt Lake City as potential witnesses.

Just before the trial began, Mr. Wilkinson, as counsel for defendant Gulf, along with the counsel for the plaintiff, entered the Judge's chambers to meet and discuss preliminary matters. The judge had already read the trial brief of Mr. Wilkinson, and was just finishing the trial brief for the plaintiff.

The judge turned to the attorney for the plaintiff and asked him if he really thought that he had much of a case. The judge stated that, in his opinion, the trial brief written by Mr. Wilkinson had "completely destroyed any credible basis for recovery by plaintiff."

Haltingly and with a substantial measure of embarrassment, the attorney for plaintiff stated that he had just read Mr. Wilkinson's brief the night before, and had come to the same conclusion. Under the circumstances, he asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Gulf Oil Company personnel who were present, including its General Counsel from Oklahoma, were shocked, and thanked Mr. Wilkinson for what they said was a "masterful trial brief."

And since that time, careful, skillful, and thorough preparation has been the hallmark of every case Doug Wilkinson has handled. He has gained the admiration of those who work closely with him.

As he continued his practice of law, he received an unsolicited invitation from W. W. Kirton, the lead partner at Kirton and McConkie, to join that firm. To do so, he would need to change the focus of his practice from handling natural resource law matters, to general corporate, commercial lending, and real estate law.

Doug accepted this invitation to join the Kirton firm, and shortly thereafter became a full partner, member and shareholder in the firm. At Kirton he had a much broader range of responsibilities.

One particular responsibility was to represent the LDS Church, a client of the firm, when it considered making large commercial loans to developers of shopping centers, office buildings, etc.

These investment-type loans by the Church often involved large sums of Church money, and it was therefore incumbent upon Mr. Wilkinson to make sure that the Church was properly protected. He met often with top management of the Church, as well as with members of the First Presidency, to answer legal questions that arose.

Wilkinson is known for his opposition to the large number of "spurious and unjustifed suits” that he feels have come to clog our court system, causing the hearing of legitimate and important cases to often be delayed for years.

Doug has repeatedly expressed his frustration with congestion in the nation's court system. He believes many attorneys fail to make good-faith use of tools to solve disagreements short of litigation. Negotiation, mediation and arbitration are pre-litigation tools that can shorten the process. Wilkinson believes it is unethical when an attorney does not use these tools when appropriate, simply because a trial will provide the attorney with more financial gain.

Mr. Wilkinson has served as the chief enforcement counsel of the Department of Commerce, and has been employed directly by the LDS Church to serve as both Manager of Church Real Property, and as legal counsel.

Mr. Wilkinson is considered a superb legal writer and has been frequently asked by fellow attorneys and others to review and revise legal and other documents drafted by them before they send them out in final form.

In his work, Doug is quiet and modest about his legal, organizational, and administrative abilities. These abilities have resulted in many invitations to play major roles in the organization and administration of political, civic patriotic, youth recreational, service club, and Church activities.

When Doug indicates his willingness to undertake an important responsibility, others know that it will be done, and done well. When he meets obstacles, he displays a resolution and persistence reminiscent of his father, and almost always finds a way to overcome them.

I have written this tribute to Doug Wilkinson because of my belief that Doug Wilkinson is an ideal personification of the ideals associated with Brigham Young High School.

Though he has faced difficult problems and misfortunes in his own life, his determination, character and persistence has carried the day, and he is widely admired by those who know him.

A deeply devoted family man, there is nothing that Doug enjoys more than his association with his wife, Rosalie, his children, and their children.

Respectfully submitted, Alan Enke, former student at BY Elementary and BY Junior High, now serving the LDS Church as Regional General Counsel in Central America, August 23, 2006.

In Memoriam

Douglas D. Wilkinson

Douglas was born on September 27, 1943 in Washington DC to Ernest Leroy Wilkinson and Alice Ludlow Wilkinson, the youngest of 5 children.

Doug grew up in Provo and graduated from BY High School in 1961.

He served an LDS mission to Germany and Southern California and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah Law School.

As an attorney, he worked for several law firms in the Salt Lake City area, specializing in real estate law.

During his time as a law student, he met and married the love of his life, Rosalie Gilbert, on June 15, 1970 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. Together they had four children.

Doug was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a strong and abiding testimony, and served faithfully in various capacities. A life-long Cougar, he was an enthusiastic supporter of BYU athletics.

Overriding all of these interests was his pre-eminent concern and love for his adored family and friends.

Douglas Dwight Wilkinson, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, passed away Thursday, December 31, 2015 in Murray, Utah at the age of 72.

He is survived by Rosalie, his wife of 45 years; his children, Michelle (Trent) Howell, Jeff (Karin) Wilkinson, Chris (Lacee) Wilkinson, Ricky Wilkinson; 9 grandchildren; sister Alice (Floyd) Anderson, and brother David (Trisha) Wilkinson and sister in law Marjorie Evans. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother E.L. "Ernie" Wilkinson, and sister and brother-in-law, Marian (Gordon) Jensen.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, January 7, 2016 at the Murray Utah South Stake Center on 5735 S. Fashion Blvd (300 E.).

Viewings will be held Wednesday evening from 6-8 p.m. at Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary, 4760 S. State Street, Murray, and at the church on Thursday before the service from 9:45-10:45 am. Interment at Murray City Cemetery.

The Wilkinson family would like to thank all of the physicians and health care providers for their great kindness and care of Doug over many years.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the LDS Humanitarian fund.

A full obituary may be viewed and online condolences shared at

[Salt Lake Tribune, January 5, 2016]

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