James “Mike” Wilkerson died Tuesday October 29th, 2019 after a period of poor health. He was 80 yrs old. Born in Mount Carroll, Illinois, Mike and his family moved to New Orleans when he was 3 yrs old.
Mike graduated from East Jefferson high school, attended LSU and joined the army reserves. After a period of traveling, Mike and his wife Carol bought a home in the French Quarter. He became an entrepreneur, renovating homes and businesses, always interested in preservation and restoration. Among his many businesses, his favorites were Cosimos in the French Quarter, The Red Lion uptown and The Pub in Hammond. He had the perfect personality for running entertainment venues.
After a few years, Mike decided to do something different. He moved his wife and 2 children to beautiful upstate New York and became Farmer Mike. Not being much of an early morning man, he told his friends that he trained his cows to be milked at 10am. Eventually the cows revolted and 2 years later Mike moved his now expanded family of 5 to the French Quarter, along with an effective wood stripping formula and a whole new repertoire of farm life stories. He started a new business “The Strip Shop” on magazine and eventually moved to an old bank building where he restored doors, shutters and other architectural treasures in keeping with the culture and history of New Orleans.
Mike was an avid sportsman, interested in fishing, duck and deer hunting. Although he had a reputation for exaggeration, an honest and sober witness attested to the truth of Mike’s claim of shooting 2 deer with one bullet.
Over time Mike became a French Quarter icon. He established his architectural antique business, “The Bank” on Felicity St. He always had humorous remarks and comments for his customers and was featured on the renovation TV show “This Old House” several times.
Mike retired several years ago but his interest in architectural treasures is being sustained by his children. Mike leaves his wife of 54 years, Carol, three children, Kelly in New Orleans, Erin in New York and Sean in New Orleans, as well as 7 grandchildren. Family and friends are invited to attend the Memorial Mass at 1:30 pm on Friday, November 1, 2019 in the J. Garic Schoen Chapel of JACOB SCHOEN & SON FUNERAL HOME, 3827 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119. Visitation will begin at 11:00 am and continue until Mass time. Condolences may be expressed at www.schoenfh.com
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