Longtime producer, director, and writer at WHAS-TV, Bob Pilkington passed away on March 4. He participated in the WHAS Crusade for Children from the very first year in 1954 until last year – that’s 66 in a row. He was the last survivor who had a part in every Crusade for Children telethon.
The photo below, taken in WHAS11 Studio H during the 60th annual WHAS Crusade for Children in 2013, shows (left to right) WHAS11’s Melissa Swan, longtime volunteer Ted Throckmorton, Bob Pilkington, WHAS broadcast pioneer Milton Metz, and WHAS Radio’s Terry Meiners.
Ted, Bob and Milton appeared annually on the Crusade telethon for more than 60 years. Ted passed away in 2015 and Milton in 2017.
And we recently received this from Bob’s son:
“He also did “Small Talk,” “Randy & Lolita” (the talking parrot, a cartoon show), covered races at Churchill Downs, specials, and special events. Then Louisville Productions…Those earlier shows haven’t got much mention…
Thanks for the great article, we really appreciate how the station has remembered him.”
There are more photos of Bob on the Crusade’s Facebook page, just click here.
See this video from the 60th annual WHAS Crusade for Children on the Crusade’s Facebook page, just click here.
Here’s his obituary as published in the Courier-Journal:
Louisville – Bob Pilkington, age 94, of Louisville, KY, passed away on March 4, 2020. He was predeceased by his wife of 40 years, Audrey E (Wedel) Pilkington, and brother Thomas A Pilkington. He is survived by his children Robert P Pilkington and wife Kaoruko H Yoshida-Pilkington, of Boston, MA; Dr. Constance J Pilkington, of Williamsburg, VA; and David B Pilkington and wife Lisa A (Kersten) Pilkington of Grayslake, IL and their, two sons Colin D Pilkington and Corey R Pilkington.
He served in the infantry in World War II, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was a POW, and was awarded the Purple Heart. His career as a producer, director, and writer at WHAS-TV began in 1951, retiring from there in 1989. Notable credits include: weekly television shows such as Hayloft Hoedown and T-Bar-V Ranch; numerous local and regional documentaries; and 66 years of volunteer work with the WHAS Crusade for Children. He was an avid volunteer at Historic Locust Grove and Reading for the Blind. Memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020 at St. John Lutheran Church, 901 Breckenridge Lane. Visitation will be Thursday, March 12 from 5-8 p.m. at Pearson’s, 149 Breckenridge Ln. and Friday from 3-4 p.m. at the church. As a memorial, the family would appreciate donations to WHAS Crusade for Children or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Published in The Courier-Journal from Mar. 8 to Mar. 9, 2020
Bob received the Crusade’s Buddy Award in 2007
Here’s the story as it appeared on WHASCrusade.org in 2007.
One of the original Crusaders, veteran WHAS-TV producer-director Bob Pilkington was honored with the WHAS Crusade for Children Buddy Award. The “Buddy” is given annually to someone who goes above and beyond in supporting the Crusade. It’s named in honor of longtime Crusade Executive Director Bud Harsbmeier.
Bob was given the award during the 54th annual WHAS Crusade for Children on Sunday, June 3, 2007 in the 3:00pm hour.
Bob Pilkington is what one would call a TV pioneer. Working at WHAS-TV in the 1950’s and 60’s, he produced daily live TV shows. Writing content like comedy sketches from scratch each and every day. He directed legendary WHAS-TV shows “T-Bar-V” and “Hayloft Hoedown.” This was in the day when all TV was LIVE without the benefit of editing to correct a miscue.
“Pilk,” as his pals call him, is one of only four people who have participated in all 54 annual WHAS Crusade for Children telethons. And he worked on the two Cerebral Palsy telethons, the granddaddy of the Crusade, that aired on WHAS-TV in 1952 and 1953. The Crusade was born in 1954. The other three original Crusaders are Milton Metz, Ted Throckmorton and Dave Dumeyer, Sr.
Even during this year’s Crusade, Pilk did his usual shift as he’s done for years. Strapping on a headest and telling camera operators what shots to get, he directed the live broadcast in Studio G Control for a 3-hour shift.
When presented the “Buddy” by Crusade CEO Rebecca Jackson and award namesake Bud Harbsmeier, he was speechless. With his signature dry wit, he said, “I’m just getting back at all the people who did that to me!” Meaning those people who wouldn’t say much when interviewed in Bob’s day.
But later, he said, “I’m very grateful for the honor and the recognition.” Congratulations Pilk!
According to studies at the Centers for Disease Control, one in nine babies in Kentucky is born prematurely, which can lead to a host of medical issues. The Anderson family faced the challenge of their son Austin’s premature birth. But they found timely help thanks to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital and the WHAS Crusade for Children.
Since 2014, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has received $177,000 in Crusade grants. Those funds have given families confidence that there is healthcare available to allow premature babies like Austin to get a proper start in life.
The number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum keeps growing. When Evan was diagnosed years ago, his family wasn’t certain what that meant. In Evan’s case, that sometimes meant aggressive behavior. The family now has hope thanks in part to the WHAS Crusade for Children and Jefferson County Public Schools’ Binet School.
With his progress using a communication device, Evan is beginning to attempt conversations, which is something his mother never dreamed could happen. Since 1961, Jefferson County Public Schools have received more than $10 million in Crusade grants to help students like Evan.
A first child brings lots of excitement but can also bring worry when young parents suddenly have to deal with the responsibility of being moms and dads. Matthew Ayala’s parents thought he was doing okay until he was diagnosed with autism. Once they got over the initial surprise they found help through the Adair County School system and the WHAS Crusade for Children.
Since 1995, Adair County Schools have received more than one million dollars in Crusade grants. Those funds have given students like Matthew a way to satisfy their curiosity and build their futures.
A series of unexpected diagnoses left the Newby family wondering where they could find help for their son, Branson, after it was determined that he has autism and epilepsy. They were persistent, and thanks to a team that includes therapists, Bardstown Elementary School and the WHAS Crusade for Children, Branson is getting the support he needs.
Since 1969, Bardstown Independent Schools have received almost a million dollars in Crusade funding. Those grants continue to guarantee that children like Branson get the help they need to fulfill their potential.
The 11th annual WHAS Crusade for Children “Building the Future” mini-telethon will air Saturday, December 14th 6:30pm to 8:00pm on WHAS11.
The program is devoted to the WHAS Crusade Endowment. It will feature contributors from across Kentuckiana who are making a difference. The program will be hosted by 840 WHAS Radio’s Terry Meiners and WHAS11’s Kristin Goodwillie.
More about the WHAS Crusade Endowment
In September, 2002, the WHAS Crusade for Children Board of Directors voted to create the new Crusade Endowment.
It guarantees that 100 percent of the Crusade’s annual telethon collections continue to go directly to agencies that help children with special needs. It ensures that millions more children will be helped for decades to come.
– 100% of each donation to the WHAS Crusade for Children helps children with special needs.
– The Crusade Endowment Campaign fully funds our future.
– Beyond your annual contribution, we need your Crusade Endowment donation now.
– Change a child’s life forever, support the WHAS Crusade Endowment.
Watch this video about Jane Charmoli. See why she made the decision to include the WHAS Crusade for Children in her estate plans.