Hugh Wilkins; Executive and Preservationist

Hugh W. Wilkins, Los Angeles electronics businessman and community leader who in retirement worked to preserve the Orange County coast, has died. He was 89.

Wilkins, former chairman of the South Laguna Civic Assn., died Wednesday in Laguna Hills of complications from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes muscle deterioration.

A native of Watertown, Mass., Wilkins moved to Los Angeles as an infant and lived most of his life in the Silver Lake district.

He served in the Navy during World War II, studied electrical engineering at UCLA and UC Berkeley and worked for the Pacific Electric Railroad. For two decades, he owned an electronics sales and service business and taught electronics at Los Angeles City College.


As an activist, Wilkins worked in the Municipal League of Los Angeles to combat corruption in city government, was chairman of the Labor Nonpartisan League, was general chairman of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and was president of the California Electronics Assn.

After he retired to South Laguna and later Laguna Hills, Wilkins worked to maintain safe traffic flow on Pacific Coast Highway and to preserve its coastal community. He battled a proposed hotel in the late 1970s, fought for public access to beaches via walkways and stairways and led a campaign to have South Laguna annexed to the city of Laguna Beach.

Wilkins is survived by his wife of 62 years, Sara Meredith Wilkins, a nephew and two grandnephews.