Our Community - Bill Wilkinson - "The Sailor of Seven Seas"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 44            November 14, 2002

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Bill Wilkinson

The success of a person is not measured just by business and personal accomplishments but also by their commitment to the betterment of the community they live in. San Pedro has been gifted with a number of hardworking individuals, both Belizeans and "Belizeans-at-heart." Many people who have adopted "La Isla Bonita" as their home have played an important role in the growth and proper development of the island. This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to feature a hotelier who has contributed and dedicated much of his time to the well-being of his fellow man and his community - Mr. Bill Wilkinson.

    Bill moved to Belize from Galvez, Louisiana where he was born on September 30th, 1942 to Evelyn and Gatin Wilkinson. Raised in Sugartown, Louisiana, at age 16 he completed his high school education and moved to Texas City where he worked as a deck hand on a shrimp boat for a "fish camp" for six months.

    When Bill turned seventeen he was accepted into the US Navy in Houston where he excelled in his duties as a radioman in the submarine communications department. He was first stationed aboard diesel submarines, the likes of which were used in World War I. In time he graduated onto newer "subs" such as the kind that carry nuclear missiles. For eight years, Bill Wilkinson proudly served his country through the US Navy.

    Following his career in the Navy, Bill moved to Florida where he worked as the assistant manager of a local Woolworth's Store for a year before returning to Louisiana. Back home, Bill started an electrical contracting business. Fortune was smiling on Bill as he then engaged in investment properties which included owning a mobile home park, two large restaurants (8,500 square feet each), an apartment complex and a Century 21 franchise. Bill handled all of these simultaneously, but unfortunately the economy of Louisiana experienced a downturn as the price of oil fell. Bill knew it was time to move and started scouting for the perfect place to relocate. Investigating places like Panama and the US Virgin Islands, he learned of Belize. After vacationing for some years in this peaceful Central American country, Bill was convinced that Belize, in particular Ambergris Caye, would be his next home. "The view from the plane ride to San Pedro was spectacular - the crystal clear water, the great snorkeling and the friendliness of its people were the seal of approval on my decision," stated Bill.

    In 1988, having acquired a piece of "paradise," Bill relocated permanently to San Pedro and began building his dream, Seven Seas Resort. Bill hired local resident Iraida Gonzalez as his first manager and on Thanksgiving Day of that same year, he proudly opened the doors to his first guests. His original concept was to sell timeshares but he came to realize this plan would need to wait a few years as San Pedro was too laid back for the idea at that time. What began as a three-room hotel, today boasts 15 one-bedroom condos. "I hope to expand Seven Seas to 21 condos by next year," Mr. Wilkinson told The San Pedro Sun. "I am doing it the Belizean way - little by little," he added.

    Through his business and personal love for the community, Bill has contributed to many town functions and fundraisers but has done so anonymously. What Bill is known for in San Pedro, is his affinity for law and order. In 1989, he was one of a few residents who gave birth to the first San Pedro Crime Committee. "Since there was only one police officer on the island at the time, some of us got together, bought a handset and a base radio for the police station, and took turns doing phone duty. If anything would come up we would immediately radio the police officer," Bill explained. Today, the Crime Committee has evolved into the San Pedro Citizens Advisory Committee, of which Bill Wilkinson serves as chairperson. Throughout his years on the island, Bill's main goal has been to build suitable housing for the police officers of the island. He says the only thing holding up the project was the land needed from the government so he could get busy with the fundraising. Bill has been put off countless times but has still not given up on this project and hopes it will soon come to be a reality.

    Bill shares his island life with wife Barbara and is the father of two sons, (Timothy and Richard) and grandfather of four, all residing in the U.S. In his spare time, Bill still enjoys what attracted him to San Pedro in the first place - diving, snorkeling and fishing.

    Fourteen years have passed since Bill Wilkinson first moved to San Pedro. Like a true Sanpedrano, Bill has lived those years unselfishly and continues to do so day after day, doing his part to provide security and shelter, for the visitors to and residents of, "Our Community."

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