Calvin Howard Wilkins, Jr.

Calvin WilkinsCalvin Howard Wilkins Jr. of Palm Beach died Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Palm Beach. He served as the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands under President George H.W. Bush. He was 78.

The son of Calvin Howard Wilkins Sr. and Frances Jane Austin, Mr. Wilkins was born on Feb. 19, 1938, in Wichita, Kan. He graduated from Yale University in 1960, where he rowed for four years.

He was one of the first franchisees of Pizza Hut. He went on to build and acquire more than 500 restaurants and other businesses across the country, including Panera Bread, Rent-a-Center and Amarillo Mesquite Grill. He also was vice chairman of Pizza Hut, Inc. and the first president of the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association.

He served as the Kansas finance chairman for the President Gerald Ford Committee in 1975. He worked as the Finance Chairman for Robert Dole in his presidential bid in 1988, and was appointed the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands by President Bush in 1989.

Mr. Wilkins was married to Mary Margaret Phipps from 1965 to 1981. In 2003, he married Rhonda Louise Tanner.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a brother, Robert Wilkins; a daughter, Wendy Minderhout; four sons, Trey, Jason, Garth and Tyler Wilkins; and nine grandchildren.

He was predeceased by a sister, Jane Gifford, who died in 2008.

Funeral services will be held Feb. 4 in Wichita, followed by another event Feb. 6 in Washington, D.C.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Wilkins Family Foundation Inc., 302 North Rock Road, Suite 200, Wichita, KS 67206.

Quattlebaum Funeral, Cremation & Event Center handled arrangements