Actor William Byrd Wilkins, the Preacher in the 2012 story A Town Called Mercy, has passed away at the age of 50. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Wilkins declined chemotherapy saying he wanted to live out his days without Doctors and toxic chemo, and a fund was set up to raise money to allow him to enjoy his final few months.
William Byrd Wilkins was born in Louisburg, North Carolina. After seeing the acclaimed African-American theatre company Penumbra perform locally, he moved to the company’s base, Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he joined the company two years after moving.
His memorable roles at Penumbra included playing Boy Willie, a brother who wants to sell a family heirloom to fund a land-buying scheme, in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.
In recent years, he returned to his home town, teaching drama at Louisburg College.