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Obituaries

Mary Wilson

 

Mary Emma Wilson, 91, of Coffeyville passed away on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, at her home.

 

She was born February 12, 1931 on a farm outside Stillwater, Oklahoma to Loretta and Elmer Duck. She remembered as a child the dust storms during the Dust Bowl. Her mom would hang wet sheets in the windows to catch the dust and keep the house cooler. She attended school in Stillwater and graduated from Stillwater High School.

 

She married James W. Wilson on April 29, 1949 in Chandler, Oklahoma. Their first son, Robert, was born within the first year. Living in Stillwater and taking classes at Oklahoma A & M, their lives were soon set on a new course. In September 1950, Oklahoma’s 45th Thunderbird division of the National Guard was called to active duty to support the Korean war. Mary was left in Oklahoma to care for her young son, supported by the pay of a 2nd lieutenant. Jim saw his share of combat in Korea, earned a few medals, and then returned stateside in the spring of 1952 when the 45th came back home.

 

Jim and Mary resumed their lives together with the added support of the GI bill. Jim attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma from 1954 to 1958. Like many post-war couples they contributed to the baby boom with David, Charles, William, and George, all born between 1953 and 1958. Mary ran a daycare out of the house to support their meager income. On some nights supper would consist of a piece of buttered toast in a bowl, covered with warm milk. The two-bedroom shotgun style house had an upright piano. Mary, a self-taught musician, would play and sing songs to the kids in the evening.

 

Mary became proficient at packing as the family lived in Atoka (1960-61), Oklahoma City (1961-68), Kansas City (1968-71), and Coffeyville in 1971. While in Oklahoma City, Mary finished a degree in accounting at the University of Oklahoma and worked a couple of years at Kerr-McGee company. After six years in Coffeyville, their travels began again when Jim became Kansas Secretary of Health in 1977 in Topeka, Kansas. Mary entered a nursing program at Washburn University and received her nursing degree in 1981 at the age of fifty. Jim entered full time active duty in the army in 1979 and eventually worked at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Mary worked as a nurse at Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda, Maryland and remembers the big blizzard in February 1983 when it snowed 16 inches. She worked a few shifts during that storm! Jim ended his military service at Fort McPherson in Atlanta where they lived in a red brick row house with 5-star generals as neighbors. The couple returned to Coffeyville in 1986 and ran a medical practice until Jim retired.

 

Mary enjoyed life in Coffeyville. She was an active member of the First Christian Church, where she sang in the choir and played the organ on Sunday mornings. The farm west of town was her quiet haven. Raising a garden, some cattle, a hay crop, or miniature horses connected her to the earth and the roots of her childhood. She taught the three sons still living at home how to use a tractor, build fence, work cattle, and other farming activities. Always pragmatic, she believed in working the problem at hand to find the best solution.

 

She was preceded in her death by her husband in 2006. She is survived by her sister Jane Caswell, a brother Frank Adams, her five sons: Robert, David, Charles, William, George; twelve grandchildren and many great grandchildren.

 

Following Mary’s wishes cremation has taken place under the direction of David W. Barnes Funeral Home in Coffeyville. A Memorial Service celebrating Mary’s life will at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, September 24, 2022, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 613 Elm St., with Pastor Lee Passwater officiating. Inurnment will be at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery in Fort Myers, Virginia.

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