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Two recognized as life members

Two local natives recently were recognized by SkillsUSA with an Honorary Life Member award.

Rescue native Roger Wilkerson and Surry native E. Thomas Hall were recognized during a National Leadership and Skills Conference 2020 Virtual Recognition Session on June 26. Recognition was virtual due to the cancellation of the SkillsUSA national conference because of COVID-19.

Honorary Life is the highest honor SkillsUSA bestows and is reserved for those who dedicate service to the organization over a long period of time. Recipients receive a plaque, and their name is recorded in SkillsUSA’s official history.

Wilkerson is the son of the late Ralph Wilkerson and Betty Wilkerson, who resides in Rescue. He now resides in Duncanville, Texas.

For 42 years, Wilkerson has been involved in SkillsUSA at the local, state and national levels. His passion began in high school when he was elected as a Virginia Vocational Industrial Clubs of America state officer. Wilkerson volunteered to support the SkillsUSA Virginia Association and served as the chair of the state Major Appliance Repair competition, chairman of the Electronics & Major Appliance Repair competition at the state level in Texas and on the national level as chairman of the Customer Service competition.

He also served as state officer trainer and as state conference technical director, as judge for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies competition in Virginia and Delaware and as a host for VIP guests at the state conference. Wilkerson was the first student elected into the Virginia VICA Hall of Honor and awarded the Virginia Honorary Life Membership. He designed the Virginia Statesman Award and was the second Virginia member to earn the PDP International Degree.

At the national level, Wilkerson was a national officer. During his term, he helped to host the 1981 International Skill Olympics (now WorldSkills). He was part of the SkillsUSA Championships management team for set up and breakdown of the competition area and helped to develop the essential NLSC dispatch call center. In 2017, he traveled to Abu Dhabi as a member of the extended secretariat to help host WorldSkills.

For the last 20 years, Wilkerson assisted former Executive Director Tim Lawrence at the national conference by supporting his many appearances and events including room set-up, equipment, meeting coordination, receptions and travel for the board and has hosted numerous VIPs on the state, national and international levels.

“Roger has been successfully involved with SkillsUSA on the local, state and national level,” said Chelle Travis, executive director of SkillsUSA. “He is the first to say his involvement has been life changing and rewarding.” she added.

For 34 years, Hall was a member of the national organization’s staff, retiring as director of its office of communications. He was the SkillsUSA brand manager and served as the editor and publisher for award-winning national communications. Skilled in writing, editing and graphic design, Hall was responsible for the flagship SkillsUSA Champions magazine from its inception, as well as all previous member communications for 30 years. He not only managed a team of six but also was the producer of many creative projects himself. He ensured the quality and on-time delivery of more than 200 communications projects each year. Across the organization, he sought to ensure clear, consistent communications that supported the SkillsUSA brand message. He developed countless large projects from the ground up and elevated the good work of others to a higher quality. In his career, he said he has been incredibly fortunate to exercise his editorial and writing skills while being able to pursue his love of graphic design — all for a very good cause to serve students and teachers in career and technical education.

“Tom made enormous contributions to the excellence and professionalism of our SkillsUSA communications on the national level,” said Travis. “He also supported the work of state associations and local chapters. He is the first to say his involvement has been life changing and rewarding,” she added.