New York, NY (CFAM/LifeNews) — The story goes that Richard Wilkins was lying in his bed one night back in the 90’s and could not sleep. He could not get something out of his head, the crazy idea that he was supposed to go halfway around the world to something called the UN Housing Conference in Istanbul. Wilkins had never been to a UN conference before. But he went.
Because he was connected to something called the Kennedy School at BYU, they thought he was from Harvard and they asked him to speak. He delivered a very strong message about the importance of the family. Delegates sought him out, among them the Saudi Arabians. Richard somehow convinced the Saudi’s to speak out at the conference, they only rarely do, but here they helped Richard block some dangerous anti-family language from coming into the document.
That was Richard, impetuous, passionate, convincing and effective.
Richard went on to be one of the most effective pro-life and pro-family advocates at the international level. He was a constant presence in the halls of the UN and delegates rushed to consult with him. As a law professor with great love in his heart for his fellow man, they knew they could trust him.
Richard founded the highly influential World Family Policy Forum, which was an annual gathering of high-ranking diplomats at Brigham Young University School of Law where Richard was a professor. Diplomats came from around the world for thee days of intense lectures, and networking that translated into a growing and more powerful coalition at the UN.
Sadly, the liberals at BYU — there are liberals everywhere — undermined Richard’s work. Every year he had to fight to maintain his program and his presence at the UN. Many of us would yearly write letters to the President of Brigham Young University to explain the importance of Richard’s work. Eventually, they got to him. His program was cut down to nothing.
Richard decamped to Qatar to live in the desert and to found a family policy institute under the sponsorship of the Sheika of Qatar, the third wife of Qatar’s Emir. This institute sponsored important conferences all over the world. Under Richard’s leadership Qatar has come to host the UN Year of the Family, which takes place in 2014.
One thing not widely known about Richard was that he was a talented thespian. He sang the lead every year in BYU’s production of A Christmas Story. Those who saw him speak knew there was an actor buried not too deep from the surface.
Only 59 years old, the morning after Thanksgiving Richard suffered a massive heart failure. He lingered unconscious in the hospital until Monday night when he passed away.
Tributes to Richard are coming in from around the world.
John Klink, long-time negotiator for the Vatican at the UN said, “We have lost Richard the lionhearted. I am personally saddened not only at the loss of a valiant defender of life. Richard’s contributions were large—so large that they constitute a beautiful and lasting gift to humanity and a magnificent example of a life brilliantly lived.”
Anna Záborská, Member of the European Parliament for Slovakia and former President of the European Parliament Committee for Women’s Rights, said, “We commemorate Richard Wilkins as an outstanding international legal expert highlighting the possible negative impact of the late EU Constitution, and the today’s EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, on family and life issues. Thanks to Richards’s international experience, we could finally limit the attempts of EU community against the natural family in the European Union. As I organize this week-end in Bratislava the first preparatory conference of central and eastern EU Member States for the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, we will hold a minute of silence to honor Richards commitment to international policy making in favor of the natural family.”
Alan Carlson, founder of the World Congress of Families said, “Richard was one of the greatest and most energetic advocates of the natural family. He was particularly effective on legal matters involving the family at the United Nations. Richard was a vital partner in making the Geneva World Congress the success that it was and set the stage and established standards for all of our future Congresses.”
Janice Shaw Crouse of the Beverly LeHaye Institute and Concerned Women for America said, “Richard was one of the most dedicated and strategic members of our pro-life/pro-family coalition. He stood firm on principle while engaging opponents with charm and wisdom. He understood the power of principle as well as the influence of personal relationships. He will be sorely missed, both as a colleague and as a friend.”
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Bill Saunders, Senior Vice President of American’s United for Life said, “He was a wonderful lawyer and a great friend, perhaps even an irreplaceable man. A great and unexpected loss for not only his family, but for families around the world.”
We mourn his passing.
LifeNews.com Note: Austin Ruse writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax publication and is used with permission.