Wilkinson was honored in 1986 as the first inductee to the NRHA Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments such as the winner of the first NRHA Futurity in 1966 aboard Pocorochie Bo. He was also an AQHA and NCHA Hall of Fame inductee and the only rider to win both the NRHA Futurity and NCHA Futurity.
With all his accomplishments, he is probably best known as a mentor to many of today's top trainers. He took the education of horsemen and women to a new level when he became the founder and developer of the University of Findlay's horse program. In 2005, the University recognized Wilkinson by naming an indoor arena in his honor. The arena was one of the original buildings Dale built when he started working with the University in 1976.
"It is truly a sad day for the horse industry and the entire NRHA family," said NRHA Executive Director Dan Wall.
"Dale was a true horseman and star in his own time, both in and out of the show arena. He was a real visionary for the future of Reining, and I know he was proud of how far the sport had come in his lifetime. His influence is demonstrated today through those horsemen and horsewomen he touched in his career.
"While we are truly saddened and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, we know that Dale's memory will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all reiners," Wall said.
Wilkinson leaves behind his wife Lucy, daughters April (Rick) Weaver and Mavis (Nick) Garber, son Garry (Mary) Wilkinson and grandchildren Meaghan, Nathan, Sara, and Dakota.