Wayne Mason Jenkins

Wayne Mason Jenkins, 93 of Brazil, passed away March 22, 2020, at 7:15pm at Cloverleaf Healthcare with his family by his side. He was born December 2, 1926, in Clay County, the son of Oscar and Eva Mason Jenkins. He attended Brazil High School and was a member of the Champions Class at First Presbyterian Church. He enrolled in Culver Military Academy to complete high school. He graduated early and served in the Merchant Marine during WWII as part of the U.S. Coast Guard. He was stationed in the Pacific until the end of the war. Following the war he attended Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy, later attending both Purdue University and Butler University.
On April 23, 1949, he married Mary Leigh Eppert. Together they raised their family in Brazil.
His talents led him to broadcasting and a position as the first TV weatherman in the Wabash Valley, beginning his long career with WTHI. He expanded his role at the station, hosting the mid-day farm report. A frequent judge at 4-H county fairs, he began a program through 4-H called the Showmanship Show that included participants throughout the Wabash Valley, from both Illinois and Indiana. He was a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.
In 1982 he created Ag Day, a nationally syndicated agri-business TV program carried on 64 stations nationwide. He and his crew were invited to broadcast from the 22nd meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy, by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Wayne was a man who loved to entertain. Music was very important to him, and he shared his love of music with his family and friends. He played string bass with jazz groups The Men of Note and the Alan Barcus Trio. He was a member of SPEBSQSA, now known as the Barbershop Harmony Society, and performed with the comedy quartet Four Flushers, traveling both nationally and internationally. Wayne also played the pipe organ at Annunciation Church and would often enlist the help of his sons for repairs to that beloved instrument. In the 1980’s, Wayne began following his children and then later grandchildren to drum corps competitions. In 2007, he was inducted into the Wabash Valley Musicians Hall of Fame.
Papa J, as he was also known, earned his private pilot license in 1947. When his oldest son began flying sailplanes, Wayne would often fly the tow-plane. He also developed the skill for building and flying radio controlled model airplanes and became a competitive, award-winning enthusiast.
Wayne had a love of history and became the Historian for the Mansfield Roller Mill from 2002 to 2009. He enjoyed teaching others about the history of this site.
Survivors include his children, Mark Jenkins and wife Teresa, Melissa Hoskins and husband Steve, Matthew Jenkins, Christopher Jenkins and wife Christine; grandchildren, Amanda Groce, Kate Ishmael, Sarah Ricks, Andrew Jenkins, Curt Koehler, Larissa Scott, Kelsey Clement, Meriel Jenkins, Kieran Jenkins, Mason Jenkins, and Colton Jenkins; great-grandchildren Grace, Chloe, Dylan, Ezra, Avery, Sean, Jude, Hannah, Bowen, Matthias, Isabelle, Finnian, Emily, Evelyn, and Clara; brother-in-law Frank Eppert; several step-grandchildren and their families; many nieces, nephews and extended family; his special companion and friend, Mary Phillips of Tell City.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother Melbourne Jenkins; dear wife Mary Leigh Jenkins; three children, Michael Wayne Jenkins, Bruce Franklin Jenkins, and Susan Leigh Jenkins; and two great-grandchildren, Felix Groce and Gabriel Groce.
Basically, Wayne was a Renaissance man – skilled in music, aviation, history, meteorology, agriculture, with a love for his family, his dogs Bella and Red, the Cubs, hot dogs, and baking cherry pies. His large family and many friends will miss him.
At Wayne’s direction, cremation was chosen. A memorial celebration will be held at a later date. Parting comments from Wayne: “Read to your kids, and take them to musicals!” along with his multi-generational advice “Don’t drive too fast, don’t stay up too late, don’t spend too much money,… have a good time!”
Arrangements entrusted with French Funeral Home. Donations in his honor can be made to the Clay County Humane Society. Post a note of condolence at www.frenchfuneralhome.com