Wilkie Willis Chaffin, an Old Dominion University alumnus and professor of information systems and decision sciences in the Strome College of Business for 22 years, died on Nov. 25. He was 78.
Chaffin earned degrees from three Virginia universities - a B.A. in mathematics from ODU in 1965, an M.S. from Radford University and a Ph.D. in statistics from Virginia Tech in 1975. He retired as professor emeritus from ODU in 1997.
In retirement, Chaffin found a second career as a volunteer with the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) for 20 years. He served with the Piedmont District in Prince Edward County as treasurer and at the state level for 11 years, including a stint as VASWCD president. He and his late wife, Dora, established and funded the Chaffin Employee awards starting in 2004. In 2015, he endowed the Dora Chaffin College Scholarship for Virginia district employees or their family members.
Chaffin earned a number of conservation awards, including the Bobby Wilkinson Award given to outstanding SWCD directors in 2011 and the Watershed Connections Outstanding Director Award for his work with local watershed initiatives. In 2012, he was inducted into the National Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame for the Southeast United States. In 2019, he was honored for his distinguished service with a resolution by the Virginia Association of Conservation Districts.
Chaffin also had a passion for cars and guitars. His loved bluegrass music and played in several bands in Tidewater and Central Virginia as lead guitarist and tenor singer. He owned many antique and classic cars.
"There is no doubt that as Wilkie embarks on his next adventure, he's doing so behind the wheel of a pristine mid-century convertible with thick whitewall tires, two-toned leather seats and rumbling exhaust," his family noted in his obituary. "Top down and tunes on with a Martin in the trunk."
He was born in 1942 in Victoria, Virginia, and briefly served in the United States Air Force. He was honorably discharged in 1969 after being diagnosed with diabetes.
He is survived by his brother Melvin W. Chaffin (Susie); sister-in-law Carolyn Crute McLemore (John); nieces Meg McLemore Eastman (Jeff), Cindy Chaffin Waggoner (Harry) and Elizabeth McLemore Kelsey (Jansen); and nephew Will T. McLemore (Jennie). He is also survived by grandnieces and nephews Malinda, Elliot and Ansel Eastman; Cora, Sabrina and Scarlett Kelsey; Agnes and Ely McLemore; and Kelsey Waggoner Hamby (Brandon).
His wife of nearly 51 years, Dora Elizabeth Crute Chaffin, died in 2014.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Wilkie will be buried at a private graveside ceremony at Bethpeor Baptist Church in Farmville, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in his memory to the Darlington Heights Volunteer Fire Department, 3348 Morris Creek Rd., Pamplin, Virginia 23958 or to the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation, 7308 Hanover Green Drive, Suite 100, Mechanicsville, Virginia 23111.