Carl Wilkerson passed on in November 2020. He was a relative of our Pam Jordan. However he was friends to hundreds of South Students. I took this article from the Salisbury Post and Susan Shinn.
“An icon of China Grove:’ Former China Grove Elementary students remember custodian Carl Wilkerson
By Susan Shinn Turner For the Salisbury Post
Thinking back on your school days, you may recall a favorite teacher or two. But for students at China Grove Elementary School, no one was as universally beloved as our custodian, Carl Wilkerson.
Wilkerson, 85, died Sunday after many years of declining health.
Wilkerson worked at the school from the 1960s to the 1990s, retiring after 32 years of service with the school system. After working at school all day, he cleaned at night at businesses around town, including First Union National Bank and China Grove Drug Co. He also worked at Cress Laundromat for 20 years. He rented an apartment in a house across from the business. He never drove a car, but folks around town were happy to give him rides.
Wilkerson worked for three principals: the late John Rudisell, Dr. Alan King, and Dr. Bob Bloodworth.
“I loved Carl to death,” King said Monday. “I was at China Grove Elementary for 11 years. He was there when I got there, and he was there when I left. He always made my day. He was positive and upbeat, and he always had a smile on his face. He loved the children. He treated me with so much more respect than I needed or deserved.”
King remembered the April Fool’s Day when he and Wilkerson switched roles. Wilkerson delivered the morning announcements, while King took up a broom and started sweeping. Even though it was just pretend, Wilkerson took his temporary role seriously, and he was nervous. King told him afterward he did just fine.
Early in her career, teacher Sandra Rogers thought she may be moving to Charlotte when her husband got a transfer. They later changed plans, but not before Wilkerson left a bean pot with an arrangement of artificial fruit in her car.
“I still have that bean pot,” Rogers said Monday. “Every time I look at it, I think of Carl. There is no way to express what a kind, gentle, and loving person he was. He was a true gentleman.”
For whatever reason, a child throwing up at school was often commonplace.
“I’d call him on the radio and I’d say, ‘Carl, we’ve got an accident,’ and he’d say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’” King said. “One day I asked him why he thanked me, and he said, ‘I’m just happy to have a job and happy to help out.’ I never heard him complain about his job.”
Carole Yost Parrott was one of those students who threw up once at school.
“He never made you feel bad about it,” Parrott said Monday. “He said, ‘It’s OK, honey. It’s OK.’ He was just happiness. Here I am 52 years old, and he is one of the people who stands out to me in elementary school. He was just as important as any teacher or principal who was there.”
Michael Brotherton agrees.
“Everybody knew Carl,” he said Monday. “He was an icon of China Grove.”
He added, “He was one great guy. He was a humble and loving person. He’d ask for volunteers to run the ice cream store and we’d all get excited about that. Everybody just loved him.”
Wilkerson was known for sometimes buying ice cream for students who didn’t have any money, and being a listening ear when they needed him.
“I was just a skinny little black man,” he said once. “They just wanted to talk to me about things, everyday problems. I told them to pray over it and take it to the good Lord.”
A Facebook page called The Grove is filled with hundreds of tributes to Wilkerson. Many former students visited him when he was in local nursing homes.
John Freeze knew Wilkerson’s faith ran deep. “You better be ready to hear about Jesus!” he wrote.
Others wrote of Wilkerson’s sweetness and kind and caring nature.
“Everybody needs a Carl,” Su Krotchko wrote.
“He is the perfect example of how a life quietly lived for good can affect the world,” Becky Morris wrote. “He worked hard but always had a kind word and a smile for everyone. We all remember him with affection. Ripple or butterfly effect — whatever. Carl made this world a better place.”
Caroline Marshall found out Wilkerson was at Liberty Commons because her beautician’s mother was there, too. She remembered Wilkerson, and began to visit him, taking him treats such as pudding and Vienna sausages.
“I know I was not the only person going to see him,” she said Monday.
Wilkerson loved getting cards and visits. At one point several years ago, his doctor had to limit the amount of visitors.
Marshall, who is an artist, would like to make a tribute to Wilkerson in calligraphy and give to the school.
“I’m going to pursue it,” she said.
As of Monday, others were discussing additional ideas about how to best memorialize Wilkerson.
Wilkerson was one of three brothers born to the late Willie and Irene Wilkerson.
In his own way, Wilkerson, too, was a teacher.
“He may have been a custodian,” Gene Doby wrote, “but he taught his kids at China Grove Elementary School a lot. He was a true educator.”
Sign The Petition For Carl Wilkerson Loop!
Cathy WirzIs that “Carl” the janitor from Corriher Lipe?
Cathy Wirz no he was at China Grove
Shane K Smith he waa at China Grove Elementary when I started 3rd grade there when the school integrated until his retirement from there Mr David Rhyne was at Corriiher Lipe
Joyce Jordan Lippard Prayers and love for Carl!!!!
Peggy Swinson HardingI went to visit Carl last year he is a sweet kind man who loves the lord. He will be in my prayers. I’m in hope of seeing him again if we ever get through this virus,
Pam JordanPeggy Swinson Harding thank you foe your prayers it was only by Gods intervention that my sister and I was allowed to see him today he is very weak not eating and hospice is doing what they do praying I can get a visit in next week if its Gods will
Peggy Swinson Harding So glad you got to see him wish we all could. I don’t think there are anyone that knows Carl that don’t love him. You would not believe how many times through the years I have though of him when I found out he was in the nursing home I had to see him.
Carol Corl Praying for Carl. I love him. He is one of the sweetest person I’ve ever met. Everyone loves Carl and Carl loves everyone.
Ricky K Smith Praying for Carl! He was several doors down from Edie’s grandmother. When she passed away, he came over and sang Amazing Grace. I love Carl! We had some good times growing up and when he worked for me at the karate school.
Eddie Waugh He was the janitor at CG Elementary all 6 years I went there. He treated me and my sisters like we were his kids. I loved Carl dearly. He has had a lasting impression on my life. Prayers right now !!
me too…he is an amazing man!
Devonia Shoemaker Worthington Prayers for Carl
Kelly Calloway Burgess I love you Carl! You were so precious to me during my difficult years at CG Elementary…
Linda Haynes Praying for Carl. The sweetest man!
Karen Eagle Prayers for Carl! Such a sweet man!
Rhonda Cress Yates Our family loved Carl and Carl loved everyone. It was very evident he loved Jesus! I miss seeing and talking to him. Prayers for Carl.
Karen Barbee-Ziegler Prayers for Carl
Robert L. Brawley Prayer
Debbie Wensil Loveless Prayers for Carl
Terry Weaver Plott Praying
Gary Cress Prayers for Carl.
Marianne Haywood Praying for Carl during this time. He touched all of our lives so deeply- truly a blessing
Phillip Bradshaw I remember Carl when I was in elementary school. He was such a nice guy.
Brenda Haynes Rau Praying for Carl…a true gentleman!
Beverly Barnhardt Rector Praying for dear Carl
Mary Corriher Such a kind man to all of us in elementary school.
Ruth Eller Prayers
Dawn Cavin Precious man. Wounded Warriors contributions is also a way to show appreciation of service even if not wounded. Have said prayer for his comfort and give him strength Dear God
Sherry Arant Sending prayers for Mr. Carl.
W Scott Faggart Prayers !! Carl was a great friend to all students, families, faculty and staff for many years. Truly a gentleman and great friend.
Beth Gaskey Kesler Prayers for comfort and peace.
Author From Julie B. Deal. The name Carl Wilkerson may not mean anything to some of you, but for hundreds, maybe thousands of us he was a pretty special guy!You see, Carl was the janitor at China Grove Elementary School. He wasn’t just a janitor, he was our friend. He loved all of us and I mean ALL of us. It didn’t matter our skin color, what our parents did for a living, where we lived, what our religious beliefs were, whether we walked to school or rode the bus. He had a kind word, a smile, a hug or just a wave every day. He made us feel special. He knew all of us by name, not just our face. Even in later years he still remembered us. Always asked how the family was and how we were. He was one in a million!Carl moved to his eternal home this weekend. So now he can share his love and joy there. Oh, if there were only more Carls in this world. What a different place it would be.
Pam JordanJulie you already preached his home going service can’t get no better than that
Paulette Yost Schilke Amen to that!