2010-04-07 / Front Page

Joe Wilkin receives lifetime achievement award

by Mandy Kelley

Joe Wilkin and Jodie Wilkin Jarvis hold the original oil painting that was presented to celebrate his 50 years in the grocery business. Joe Wilkin and Jodie Wilkin Jarvis hold the original oil painting that was presented to celebrate his 50 years in the grocery business. On March 24, 2010, in Biloxi, Mississippi, Joe Wilkin was honored with a life-time achievement award by SuperValu, the wholesale supply company for Joe Wilkin’s I.G.A., Inc.

When Joe was a child, his father, Willie Joe Wilkin, and grandfather, J.S. Wilkin, owned JS Wilkin and Son, a grocery store located on the Colquitt square. In 1936, Joe’s father passed away, followed three months later by his grandfather. At this time, Joe was only 7 years old. Maude Wilkin, Joe’s mother, was left owning the business and raising three children.

Later in 1936, Joe’s mother decided to sell the store to Bill Grow on a hand-shake deal that after Joe graduated from college, Bill would sell the business back to the Wilkin family.

Prior to transferring to the University of Georgia in 1948, Joe attended Gordon Military College for two years. Joe finished college, but before he was able to graduate from UGA, he was drafted to fight in the Korean War. However, he received his diploma while on a troop ship on his way to Japan.

In the fall of 1952, Joe returned to Colquitt and worked for one year learning the grocery store ropes from Bill Grow. At the end of the year, Bill honored his agreement with Maude and, on January 1, 1954, Joe once again owned his family’s grocery store.

Located on the square, the grocery store was operated as the Jitney Jungle for approximately one year before becoming the Joe Wilkin’s I.G.A.

In 1965, Joe purchased land, and the I.G.A. was constructed at its current location. In 1972, Joe doubled the size of the business; since then, the store has had several remodels and has transformed from a grocery store to a supermarket.

On September 1, 1999, Joe’s daughter, Jodie Wilkin Jarvis, purchased the store from Joe. This, however, did not stop Joe from working or keep him from giving his knowledgeable input, even when not requested.

January 1, 2010, marked 56 years Joe has been in business. On March 24, SuperValu held an award ceremony in Biloxi to present Joe with a beautiful oil painting that represents over 50 years of his affiliation with Joe Wilkin’s I.G.A. Joe, who has recently been ill, was unable to make the trip to receive his award. Jodi and store manager Sara Cook attended and accepted the award on his behalf.

Even though Joe has been sick for the past few months, he has undergone an operation to receive a new pacemaker and is feeling much better these days. He can occasionally be seen at the I.G.A. shopping or facing up aisles; he still offers pointers to the employees.

The Wilkin’s I.G.A. family appreciates the community for its support for the last 56 years and hopes to continue to serve you and your families for the next 56 years to come.

Joe’s life-time partner in business and in marriage is Patricia Brown Wilkin. They have three daughters, Holly, Marianne and Jodie, and five grandchildren, Mandy, Scott and Zach Kelley, and Kaylee and Caroline Maxwell, all of whom they are very proud of.

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