Former Champaign Mayor Virgil Wikoff Dies

March 19, 2012

Former Champaign Mayor Virgil Wikoff is being remembered as someone who served as a voice of reason during a turbulent time in the U.S.

Wikoff passed away Friday at the age of 85 after a long illness. After being elected the city council in 1963, he served as mayor from 1967 through 1975, and also served three terms in the Illinois House.

Former Champaign Mayor Dan McCollum says he'll most remember Wikoff talking to a packed Bethel AME Church on the night Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated.

"It was a nice gesture to not only show sympathy and understanding, but I think relate to a significant portion of the population," McCollum said. "It was very, very disturbed what had happened. Of course, I don't think that the black community were the only people terribly disturbed about what had happened. Clearly, that was where the mayor needed to show up, and he did."

McCulloum says Wikoff also sought to maintain order during movements near the University of Illinois campus tied to the Vietnam War. He says the two had different views politically, but says he also developed sympathy for what a predecessor to the office of mayor had to deal with.

Services for Virgil Wikoff will be at 10 Friday morning at the Morgan Memorial Home in Savoy, with burial in Maroa cemetery. Visitation is from 5 to 7 on Thursday.

(Photo courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives)

Story source: WILL