It was a shock for many when they learned this week of the sudden and unexpected passing of Keith Wilkinson Monday morning, a beloved Airdronian who did so much for the community.

Keith was one of the founding members of 100 Airdrie Men Who Give A Damn; and according to his fellow members and friends, Tyson Leslie and Jack Lumley, they called Wilkinson Mr. Airdrie for all he would do and who he knew.

"He knew everyone in Airdrie. Everywhere we went, there was someone he knew from every business, and whenever we wanted to talk about a charity, an organization, or a venue, he'd say he knew a guy," Leslie explained.

According to Lumley, Wilkinson was the type of guy who, when he would join a committee, would be right in there and lead the charge to get to work done. 

Lumley remembers Wilkinson fondly from a fundraising event some time ago. Even though Wilkinson was very sick with the cold, he still showed up and was more than ready to help volunteer.

Wilkinson was better known for his role as Santa around Airdrie.

"The number of people he played Santa for, personally in their homes or at large events, where he would show up, it was incredible," Leslie said.

Even after he "retired" as Santa, Leslie mentioned he would still show up if he thought a Santa was needed.

Lumley recalls one holiday season when his kid was sick, Wilkinson offered to show up as Santa even though he was retired. Lumley later found out that Wilkinson did this for 15 other people for various reasons.

Both friends of Wilkinson mentioned that there is a 100 Airdrie Men Who Give A Damn planning meeting tonight, and Wilkinson not being there is going to be noticed immediately and it will be incredibly hard.

Wilkinson was also a devoted family man, according to Lumley, he met his lovely wife Sandra six and a half years ago and assumed the role of father in the best way possible.

"She and the two kids were the apples of his eye. Every time we had a conversation about any of the volunteer activities, it circled back to Sandra's impact on his life and the kids' impact on his life. No matter what he was going through, she was his rock."

For Wilkinson, it was never about getting his name in news articles. It was about doing what was best for the community.

The Airdrie Chamber of Commerce and Airdrie East MLA Angela Pitt both posted to their Facebook pages, extending their condolences about the loss of a beloved Airdronian.

A celebration of life is being held for Wilkinson next week.

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