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Wilkes chosen as Veterans Day speaker

Georgia Senior Judge E.M. Wilkes III will be the featured speaker at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Square in Hazlehurst.
Judge Wilkes is a native of Hazlehurst, the son of E.M. Wilkes Jr. and Beatrice McDuffie Wilkes.
He is a 1964 graduate of Jeff Davis High School where he was president of the senior class, served on the student council, was a Beta Club member and played football, baseball and ran track. He was an All-Region halfback and was Honorable Mention All State his junior and senior years. He was captain of the 1963 team.
He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in General Management and from the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University with a Juris Doctor degree. He was president of Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity at Georgia Tech, was on the Student-Faculty Relations Committee, the Honor Roll of the College of Industrial Management and the Dean’s List.
At Mercer, he served as treasurer and president of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and was a contributor to Amicus Curiae Magazine.
He served in the U.S. Army with basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was Outstanding Trainee in Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Polk, La. He attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Okla., and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in artillery. After attending officer basic course in air defense artillery at Fort Bliss, Texas, he was stationed in South Korea, serving as as firing platoon leader and then battery commander. He later served as an instructor at the U.S. Army Artillery and Missile School, Fort Bliss, until his time in service ended.
He is married to Patricia Elyse Edwards and they have two sons, Tommy of Roswell and Drew of Savannah, grandsons Chase and Andrew, and granddaughters Dani Dee and Camille.
Judge Wilkes was admitted in be Bar in 1975 and established his practice in Hazlehurst. In 1978, former Hazlehurst resident Ken. W. Smith joined him in the firm Wilkes and Smith. Later J. Alexander Johnson of Baxley established the firm of Wilkes, Johnson and Smith with offices in Hazlehurst and Baxley.
Another Hazlehurst native, Kris Knox joined the firm, establishing Wilkes, Johnson, Smith and Knox.
In 1993, Judge Wilkes was appointed Superior Court Judge, Brunswick Judicial Circuit.
Judge Wilkes served earlier as City of Hazlehurst Municipal Court Judge and resigned that position to serve as City Attorney.
In 1979, Judge Wilkes was appointed the first Juvenile Court Judge for Jeff Davis County.
In 1984, he was appointed judge of the newly created State Court of Jeff Davis County. He organized and started the court and began with a backlog after the Superior Court transferred existing traffic cases from the Probate Court, appeals from the Municipal court and all misdemeanor cases in the Superior Court to the state Court.
After his 1993 appointment as Superior Court Judge, Judge Wilkes was reelected in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
He became Chief Judge of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit in 2012 and served until he retired in 2017.
In 2017, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him a Senior Judge of the Superior Courts of Georgia for life, allowing him to hold court in any Superior Court in Georgia and he has continued to hold court throughout south Georgia since that time.

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