Douglas C. Wilkins

Beloved Coach, Mentor & Friend
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Remembering Douglas C. Wilkins

Douglas Clare Wilkins died June 3, 2019, the day of his wedding anniversary, at the age of 77 in his home at Franciscan Oaks in Denville. He was predeceased by his wife of over 50 years Marjorie (July 2018). Surviving him are his beloved brother and sister, William Wilkins (Ruthann) and Jacquelyn Wilkins Estes, respectively, two daughters, Debra Wilkins Becker and Lisa Wilson (Stephen), a son, Gordon Wilkins (Thuy-An), and five grandchildren.

Doug was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Gordon And Alice Wilkins. He graduated from Roxbury High School, earned a BA in History at Moravian College in 1964, and an MA in Educational Administration and Supervision from William Paterson University in 1978. He spent his entire career with the Mountain Lakes School District, serving first as a Social Studies teacher and twenty-nine years as an administrator at the high school (athletic director & assistant principal) including serving as principal from 1987-1999. During his tenure as principal, the school district was consistently ranked among the top high schools in NJ, as well as being nationally ranked, with Doug being named Educator of the Year in 1994.

Doug served as head football coach at Mountain Lakes High School from through 2009, amassing a 328-105-5 record that ranked him fourth on New Jersey’s all-time victories list at the time of his retirement, as well the most wins in Morris County. The HERD won eight sectional championships, including back-to-back North Jersey, Section 1, Group 1 titles in his final two seasons, going 12-0 in both seasons, ending his coaching career on a 25-game winning streak. Doug received numerous accolades throughout his coaching tenure. He was named Coach of the Year by various media outlets, was elected into the NJ Coaches Hall of Fame, was the first active football coach in Morris County to be inducted into the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (2000), and was presented with the Robert M. Herbstman Award (2004) by Moravian College. The newly installed turf field in Mountain Lakes was named in his honor in October 2010, the season following his retirement.

Doug was a charter member of the Morris County Football Coaches Association, mentoring many coaches over the years to honor those who coached and mentored him early in his career, most notably coaching greats John Bauer Sr. (Randolph) and Bell Regan Sr. (Delbarton). Doug and his coaching staff created the HERD acronym (Hustle, Enthusiasm, Roughness, Desire/Dedication), unique to the school’s football program, as a philosophy of team bonding and unity to foster success and maximize players’ potential.

Doug had a great amount of trust, respect and faith in his players, coaches, students, and staff; he held them to high standards and challenged them, helping to get the best out of people. This went beyond the gridiron, as this was part of the Laker Pride initiative he embraced as principal. Doug’s legacy transcends the wins on the field and awards he earned. He considered his greatest accomplishments to be those of his children, grandchildren, players, students, teachers, and peers. He cherished the many letters, emails, visits, and souvenirs bestowed upon him from former players, students, and friends showing how they achieved their own success and applied his philosophy and motivation to their careers, family, and life.

Towards the end of his coaching career, Coach Wilkins had a vision of creating a group for the HERD Alumni. This group would eventually be formed by way of a series of meetings involving local alumni held at the home of HERD Alumnus Jamie Rodgers. The goals of the group were to provide a way to help former players in times of need and to provide funds for the HERD football program to supplement the budget provided by the Mountain Lakes Board of Education.

Following Coach Wilkins’ retirement, in the spring of 2010, an anonymous benefactor donated $50,000 to establish a scholarship in the names of Coach Wilkins and Coach Roche. The alumni group then decided to continue to fund that scholarship by means of an annual golf outing. Today it is known as the Wilkins-Roche Herdsman Scholarship, and the golf outing is a popular annual event that continues to raise money to fund the scholarships awarded to several graduating senior Herdsmen each year.

These fundraising activities eventually led to the official formation of the HERD Alumni Foundation, a 501(c) (3) corporation, to continue the work of Coach Wilkins vision. Since its inception in 2010 to the passing of Coach Wilkins in 2019, the HERD Alumni Foundation has distributed over $180,000 in scholarships to 37 graduating Herdsmen. In addition, thanks to the annual Pig Roast and donations from HERD Alumni, the foundation has also donated over $150,000 to the HERD program for items such as weight room equipment, new uniforms, turf blocking sleds, mechanical tackling dummies, and stipends for volunteer coaches. The Foundation depends on the continued support of the HERD Family to continue to fulfill Coach Wilkins’ vision.

Our Generous Donors

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Deanna Holland

$1,000.00 June 17, 2019

Many thanks to Michael O'Rourke and Jim Rogers for the wonderful tribute last week and for keeping the Herd alive

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Deke Penicnak

$519.66 June 15, 2019

Coach Douglas Wilkins & Coach James Bagli, Sr. c. 1966 "Our Founding Fathers of the Mountain Lakes HERD & HERD Tradition"

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Howard Steinman

$500.00 July 11, 2019

In memory of our coach, mentor, and friend. The Steinmans

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Deke Penicnak

$500.00 June 14, 2019

Coach Wilkins & Mrs. Wilkins, Many Memories. "Strength & Honor" to The Wilkins Family, Relatives & Grandchildren.

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Kathleen & Willem van Rijn

$500.00 June 7, 2019

In honor of Doug, coach, mentor and friend. Thank you for all you did and the difference you made in so many lives....especially the lives… Read more

In honor of Doug, coach, mentor and friend. Thank you for all you did and the difference you made in so many lives....especially the lives of Paul, David and Elizabeth Lockwood.

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Deke Penicnak

$311.11 January 13, 2020

ALL OF OUR PAST & PRESENT MOUNTAIN LAKES HERD TEAMS, HERDSMEN & HERD COACHES "O.U.H." GO HERD!!!

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Nicholas Youngman

$300.00 June 12, 2019

In memory of Doug Wilkins. Our colleague, mentor, coach, and friend. We will miss you.

The Youngman family

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Deke Penicnak

$211.11 October 13, 2019

ALL OF OUR PAST & PRESENT MOUNTAIN LAKES HERD TEAMS, HERDSMEN & HERD COACHES "O.U.H." GO HERD!!!

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Sean Dunne

$200.00 June 6, 2019
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Robert Flor

$154.79 August 16, 2021
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Deke Penicnak

$111.11 July 8, 2019

All of Our Past & Present Mountain Lakes The HERD "HERDSMEN" - c.1966 - 1967 - "O.U.H."

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Deke Penicnak

$111.11 August 3, 2019

All of Our Past & Present ML HERD COACHES & HERDSMEN "O.U.H."

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Deke Penicnak

$111.11 September 10, 2019

ALL PAST & PRESENT MOUNTAIN LAKES HERD TEAMS, HERDSMEN & COACHES

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Jeffrey Pelliconi

$103.30 January 4, 2021

Go HERD !!!

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Jason Robbins

$100.00 June 12, 2019
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Dave Carabetta

$100.00 June 20, 2019

In memory of a great coach and even better husband and father. May he rest in peace.

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Wayne Perry

$100.00 June 12, 2019
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Jon Sabel

$100.00 June 20, 2019

To the principal and coach who welcomed me to a new school and convinced me to join the football team, where I learned valuable lessons and… Read more

To the principal and coach who welcomed me to a new school and convinced me to join the football team, where I learned valuable lessons and made many life-long friends. Understanding the strength of teamwork, the value of upholding tradition, and how to discover what you're capable of and not settling for anything less...there are but a few of the many positive takeaways I attribute to Coach Wilkins. Thanks, Coach. You will be always be remembered.

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Christine Wilkins and Don Snovell

$100.00 June 11, 2019

Uncle Doug, in the great beyond we wish you peace, comfort, many more dates with Marge, a white sandy beach, and a football game. Thanks… Read more

Uncle Doug, in the great beyond we wish you peace, comfort, many more dates with Marge, a white sandy beach, and a football game. Thanks for everything you gave to us.

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Brian Scholten

$100.00 June 11, 2019

Condolences from the Scholten family.
Legendary friend, coach and teacher.
-Henry, Brian, Michael and Kevin.

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Eileen Anderson

$100.00 June 12, 2019
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Deke Penicnak

$100.00 June 14, 2019

The Penicnak Family - John, Fern, Deke, Christine, Helen, Adrianna, Delaney & Devon.

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Lou, Debbie, Danny, Ellen and Grace Terlizzi

$100.00 June 12, 2019

Mountain Lakes was lucky to have Marge and Doug!

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Jim Connolly

$100.00 June 8, 2019

To my close friend Doug Wilkins

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Matthew Naegle

$100.00 June 9, 2019

Great coach, teacher, friend and human being.

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Debra Kovar

$100.00 June 12, 2019

I will miss the best Principal and who I consider to be my friend. My sincere condolences to the family, Debbie, Lisa, and Gordon and all… Read more

I will miss the best Principal and who I consider to be my friend. My sincere condolences to the family, Debbie, Lisa, and Gordon and all the beautiful grandchildren. God Bless All of You.

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Patrcia Martin

$100.00 June 9, 2019

Our heartfelt sympathies and and condolences from the Martin family.
We share in your loss. A beloved friend and coach.
Patty, Adam… Read more

Our heartfelt sympathies and and condolences from the Martin family.
We share in your loss. A beloved friend and coach.
Patty, Adam, Jonathan and Lucas.

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Debra Kovar

$100.00 June 12, 2019

Our sincere condolences to the Wilkins Family. We are all so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Doug and he is an legend. … Read more

Our sincere condolences to the Wilkins Family. We are all so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Doug and he is an legend. We love him dearly.
Love, The MLHS Sunshine Club

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John McComish

$77.00 February 3, 2021
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Sam Lotto

$75.00 June 14, 2019

To a coach and teacher who taught us that even if you have average talent through hardwork, enthusiasm and desire you could go beyond your… Read more

To a coach and teacher who taught us that even if you have average talent through hardwork, enthusiasm and desire you could go beyond your personal best on the field and off! Life lessons that has served one continuously as a husband, father, and most important-community member! Thanks Mr. Wilkins!

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Sam Lotto

$51.80 December 28, 2020

If there are players who planning to choose education or something a long the lines that serves/mentors young people - be great if the funds… Read more

If there are players who planning to choose education or something a long the lines that serves/mentors young people - be great if the funds could be donated to him/her.

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Bill and Linda Silcox

$50.00 June 10, 2019
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Karen Janiszewski

$50.00 June 10, 2019
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Christopher O'Rourke

$50.00 June 11, 2019
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Peter and Linda Aldrich

$50.00 June 12, 2019
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Margaret Connordv

$50.00 June 11, 2019
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Ellen Freling

$50.00 June 11, 2019

So sorry for the loss of a wonderful man

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Anonymous

$50.00 June 7, 2019
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Stephen and Cynthia Shaw

$50.00 September 22, 2019
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LuAnn Wojcik

$50.00 June 12, 2019

With much sympathy to Doug's family and friends. He was a legend, always loved and will be dearly missed.
My prayers and thoughts are with… Read more

With much sympathy to Doug's family and friends. He was a legend, always loved and will be dearly missed.
My prayers and thoughts are with his family.

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Judy and David Appel

$50.00 June 19, 2019

Our condolences on the loss of such a wonderful man.