News Column

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) The Nose column

May 30, 2014

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

May 30--Celebrity power couples don't exactly grow on trees in the 253.

The few that come to mind -- John and Connie Ladenburg, Harold and Bil Moss, Dave and Valarie Zeeck, and Nah Fun and Chai Li, the clouded leopard mates at Point Defiance Zoo -- won't draw any paparazzi away from Brad and Angelina or from Jay Z and Beyonce.

Remember the heady days when locals could spy "Dynasty" diva Linda Evans and her new-age beau, Yanni, coming and going from Evans' Lakewood mansion? Those days are long gone.

The superstar power outage is almost enough to make The Nose surrender our credentials as a society page columnist.

The truth is, Hollywood A-list couples don't live here and surely don't wed here, no matter how much fancy glass art we have.

But we're proud to report the next best thing: A Tacoma native attended last weekend's super-colossal, breathlessly awaited wedding of the century -- the union of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

This local boy not only attended the "Kimye" nuptials in Florence, Italy; he was the pastor who officiated at the ceremony.

The Northwest hasn't received news this exciting since a year ago, when Kanye and Kim had a baby and named her North West.

He's hotter than the burning bush: Some folks might remember Rich Wilkerson Jr., who grew up in a clergy family in Tacoma. He's a grandson of the late Rev. Fulton Buntain, the founder of Life Center, Tacoma's original megachurch.

Today, Wilkerson is a 30-year-old associate pastor at Trinity Church, one of the biggest churches in Miami.

His role at the Kimye wedding circus rocketed him into 15 minutes of global fame, aided by a tailwind of good looks, cool hair, chic fashion and a glamorous wife named DawnChere. Their photo booth snapshot with the ultra-famous newlyweds can be found all over the Interwebs.

"Wait, The Pastor That Married Kim And Kanye Is Super Hot," the website Buzzfeed proclaimed.

"A handsome mix of Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling" was how the The Daily Mail of London described him.

Throw in a dash of Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, and he's the total package.

Here and there: Up here in Tacoma, Wilkerson is still known as the boy in the Life Christian Academy sweater who got his education at the Union Avenue school.

Down in Miami, he's known as a showman who pulls crazy stunts -- eating a cockroach, getting Tasered on stage -- to entice unchurched folks through the front door.

Up here, Wilkerson is the loyal grandson who spoke at Buntain's funeral in 2012. He also spoke at the United 253 event for church youth groups in 2013.

Down there, he's the leader of "The Vous," which sounds like a French version of the Barbara Walters talk show. It's short for "The Rendezvous," a hip Christian ministry for young adults. Kanye and Kim dropped in and got to know him there.

Some would say these two have no business getting hitched by an Assemblies of God pastor -- that her previous fly-by-night marriages and reality TV lifestyle aren't conducive with holy matrimony.

On his Twitter account, Wilkerson takes the path of optimism: "So happy for these two. Grateful for their friendship. The best is yet to come #marriedlifeisthe bestlife."

Till death do they part -- that's his heartfelt prayer.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world expects they'll part according to the terms of carefully written prenup.

Everyone whistle the theme song: Folks in Fircrest sure do love saying they live in Mayberry, almost as much as the squeaky-clean citizens of Sumner do.

Who wouldn't want to emulate the rural simplicity of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Mayberry RFD"?

So it was inevitable that people addressing the City Council this week about Fircrest's Prohibition-era alcohol rules would compare the Tacoma suburb with the quaint television town.

Then a woman walked to the podium and offered a reality check: At least Mayberry had a bar.

For which Otis, the town drunk, was eternally grateful.

Just get on with it, Fircrest: Loosen your rules and allow sales of alcohol by the glass. Better yet, fill the city water tower with rum. You'll be legendary for the best Fourth of July parties in the region.


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