Wilma I. Wilson
Jan 13th 1929 - Jan 10th 2013
Wilma Irene Wilson was a dedicated educator with a sense of purpose and a flair for telling a good story. She gave back to the community in countless ways, from the time she spent as financial secretary at Hope Lutheran Church to the many students she taught and inspired throughout her 28 years at Plainwell High School. Wilma’s beautiful smile, sharp wit, and passion for teaching will live on in the hearts and memories of the many people whose lives she touched.
Wilma Irene Wilson was born in the year of the first color TV, the inauguration of President Herbert Hoover, and the creation of the Popeye comic strip – 1929, the bridge between the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. She came into the world on January 13, the third child of proud parents Harold and Ella Mae (Wortman) Wilson. Wilma had two older siblings waiting for her at home (Margery and Harold), and a younger sister yet to come (Frances). Wilma’s mother Ella Mae was the heart of the family, strict but fair, and held her children to high standards.
The Wilson family lived in Mayfield, Michigan, where Harold and Ella Mae operated a combination grocery store and gas station. Harold also served as the postmaster, with the post office located in the back of the store. Mail delivery was simpler in those days, before UPS and tracking codes – in fact, Wilma remembers her father just throwing the mailbags onto the train as it went through town! Wilma and her family lived on the second floor, just above the grocery store. As a child, Wilma loved butter pecan ice cream, and was infamous for getting out a carton of ice cream, eating some out of the box, and then putting the leftovers in the back of the freezer for later.
After graduating from Kingsley High School in 1947, Wilma was hired to work in the school office. She worked in the office for a few years, where her great sense of humor and positive attitude made her well liked by co-workers and students alike. Wilma’s friends at Kingsley recognized her potential, and encouraged her to go back to school. She eventually enrolled at Central Michigan University, and graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and a teaching certificate. Wilma continued to challenge herself, and earned a secondary teaching certificate in 1961, followed by a master’s degree from Western Michigan University in 1966. Wilma loved to recall the day her proud mother told summer guests that her daughter had achieved a master’s degree.
Wilma began teaching Business Math at Plainwell High School in 1957, and would continue to do so for the next twenty-eight years. She settled into the area, and bought her own home in Plainwell. Wilma became a faithful member of Hope Lutheran Church, and served as the financial secretary for eighteen years.
She enjoyed staying in touch with her students after graduation, and former students included her accountant, the nurse at her doctor’s office, and an actor in California. She considered her nieces and nephews to be her kids, and loved spending time with them. She looked forward to family get-togethers, and enjoyed receiving their letters at Christmas. Wilma remained close to her parents as well, and was able to care for her mother in her declining years.
In her free time, Wilma enjoyed her home. She was a talented seamstress as well as an accomplished knitter, and produced many beautiful creations over the years. She had deep roots in the Plainwell area, and was blessed with longtime friendships of many years standing. One of Wilma’s favorite outings was the Mayfield Pond Picnic, held on the last Sunday in June, and she was a familiar and welcome face there every year.
Dedicated, intelligent, and witty, Wilma was a devoted daughter, a loving sister and aunt, a loyal friend, and an inspiring teacher. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her many students, friends, neighbors and family members.
Wilma Wilson died on January 10, 2013, at the age of 83. Wilma’s family includes her sister, Frances; many nieces and nephews; and her sister-in-law, Barbara Wilson. She was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Ella Mae Wilson; her sister, Margery; and her brother, Harold.
Visit with Wilma’s family and friends and view her life story film on Tuesday, January 15, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell, 120 Woodhams St. (685-5881). A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, at Hope Lutheran Church, 290 12th St., Plainwell. Memorial donations can be made to Hope Lutheran Church or the charity of choice. Please visit Wilma’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can learn more about her life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.