The Grand Master Fiddler Championship has lost one of our family.


WINDSOR, VA — William Earl Wilkins, 76, went to be with the Lord on Nov. 12, 2018

Mr. Earl "Squirrel" Wilkins. Squirrel as he was known to most everyone backstage at the Grand Ole Opry was a kind and generous man. He was a fixture backstage many Saturday nights for decades and his close friends included Roy Acuff, Howdy Forrester, H. G. Roberts, Dr. Perry Harris, Charlie Bush, Porter Wagoner, Jackie Phelps, Mike Devillez, and many others. He was an avid supporter of the Grand Masters and rarely missed a contest from 1972 through 1997. He will be missed!


He was born in Suffolk, Virginia, the son of the late William Claiborne Wilkins and Elizabeth Holland Wilkins. Earl worked as a manager of a fertilizer company, but went on to work and retire from Tidewater Feed & Seed in Windsor.

He was a member of Colosse Baptist Church and a former member of Antioch Church, where he served as treasurer.

William Earl, also affectionately known as “Squirrel,” was a former member of the Windsor and Walters Ruritan clubs, where he served as past president. He was a former member of the Windsor Town Council, volunteered with the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, and served as a past president.

He was a past president of the Tidewatchers Booster Club. Squirrel was an honorary member of the Grand Ole Opry cast, and was a former special events employee for WCMS radio station.

He loved country music and was an avid New York Yankees fan.

William Earl is survived by his sister, Carolyn Harrup; niece, Karen Broadwater and her husband, Brian; great-nieces and great-nephew, Madison, Meagan and Matthew; and seven special cousins.

The funeral will be on Friday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. in Parr Funeral Home & Crematory with the Rev. Tim Webb and the Rev. Steve Bradshaw officiating. Burial will follow at Holly Lawn Cemetery.Friends may join the family other times at the residence of his sister, Carolyn Harrup.

Memorial donations may be made to the Virginia Eye Foundation c/o 241 Corporate Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23502 Attn: Controller.

Condolences may be registered online at

Welcome to the Grand Master Fiddler Championship!

The Forty-Seventh Annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship was held on Saturday September 1st and Sunday September 2nd, 2018 (Labor Day Weekend), in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the Ford Theater.  Contestants from 15 states participated in the competition providing over 83 contestant performances. Three-time runner-up Trustin Baker of Missouri claimed the Championship. Please plan to join us for the 48th Annual competiton Labor Day weekend August 31-September 1, 2019.


You can see the competition LIVE as it happened Click here for the link.
For information about the competition, schedule and host hotel, please click "FIDDLER COMPETITION" at the top or click here for the link.


The Grand Master Fiddler Championship Inc. is organized as a Tennessee nonprofit and U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, formed to educate about and perpetuate fiddling as an art form and cultural treasure. The corporation's primary focus is holding the annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship competition - an event that has started many young musicians on their way to a career in music. As a 501(c)(3) entity, all donations are tax deductible, and we welcome your support to promote and educate about fiddling. Fund-raising efforts are being planned in order to expand the competition, enhance our educational efforts, and to further the awareness of fiddling around the globe.


Fiddling laid the foundation of the WSM Grand Ole Opry and remains important to country and bluegrass music today. For a quarter-century, the contest was sponsored by WSM, the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Association, and later by Gaylord Entertainment.  When financially able, the GMFC makes donations to such charities as the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund and the Bluegrass Trust Fund which benefit musicians in need.  We do this in honor of the contributions of the pioneers to country, bluegrass and traditional music. Many of these pioneers such as Roy Acuff, Porter Wagoner, "Uncle Jimmy" Thompson, Bill Monroe, Howdy Forrester and Tommy Jackson played the fiddle or were very involved with fiddling. We have also donate fiddles/violins to the W. O. Smith Community Music School in Nashville.


Please tell all your fiddle music friends, websites, discussion lists and other music sites about this web page! Let us hear from you and we will add you to the GMFC email list.

2018 Dr. Perry F. Harris Distinguished Fiddler Award Recipient Dr. Robert "Roby" Cogswell.

Help Support the Arts in Tennessee by participating in the Tennessee Specialty License Plate Program benefitting the Tennessee Arts Program - proceeeds from every license plate go to help fund Arts in Tennessee.  To get more information or order your plate please see

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
© 2018 Carnes Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.