Barbara Wilkinson 1938-2022
Last updated 9/22/2022 at 12:27pm
Our much-loved mother, Barbara Kay Wilkinson, a longtime resident of Edmonds, passed away peacefully at the age of 84 on Saturday, Sept. 3.
Barbara Wilkinson is survived by her husband, James E. Wilkinson of Edmonds; daughter Susan A. Wilkinson-Larsen and husband Jeffrey Larsen of Woodinville; son Steven J. Wilkinson and wife Ronda Wilkinson of Wenatchee; sisters Sue Cancilla of Kenmore and Marilyn Christenson-Wayland of Camano Island; and brother Doug Gerbing of Edmonds.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Mikenzie Redd, Madalyn Chavez, Nicole Redd Grenard, Whitney Decker, Alexandra Wilkinson, and Melissa Matlock. Plus, great grandchildren Jamie Chavez, Paityn Decker, Evelyn Decker, and Olivia Decker. Preceded in death by her parents, Ellenor and Emil Gerbing, sister Marlys Shroyer, and daughter Pamela Redd.
Barbara Wilkinson was born April 19, 1938, in Barnesville, MInnesota. One of her earliest, favorite memories was as a young 8-year-old was receiving a black Bible at church and feeling her first nudging wanting a close relationship with Christ.
When Barbara was 16 years old, her parents Emil and Ellenor Gerbing moved the family of seven across the country into a big home located in the now University of Washington district of Seattle.
Barbara met her future husband, James (Jim) Wilkinson, while attending Lincoln High School. In English class, Jim Wilkinson's deep brown eyes and black hair, and constant winks, caught mom's attention.
Soon they were inseparable high school sweethearts. Graduating from Lincoln High School in 1956, they later got engaged at Semiahmoo Spit, (which is a longtime special family spot) and were married in 1959 at University Congregational Church.
Barbara attended the University of Washington while also working as a secretary in the Department of Forestry. Her husband, James, envisioned a Fishery Science undergraduate degree from the University of Washington; however, the lack of interest in the required science classes led them to both discuss a change.
They moved to Bellingham, where James earned a bachelor of science in business and accounting from Western Washington University, and where their first child, Pamela Wilkinson, was born.
With Barbara caring for Pamela, and James working numerous jobs, he applied for an accounting position with Chevron Oil and was given the opportunity to manage the Ice/Cold Storage facility in Pelican, Alaska.
Taking this opportunity to earn and save money for a home, Barbara and James surprised their parents and moved to Pelican. A young family that now also included twins Susan and Steven, they lived a remote island life, walking the town's boardwalk to play and work, and took weekend excursions for recreational fishing and hunting, picking delicious blackberries.
There is a darling picture of Mom in her big boots and scarf around her hair, holding a gun guarding the blackberries, while the family picked berries in case of a bear encounter.
Two and half years later, they returned to Washington state and moved temporarily into James's parents' home in Lake City, who were then living in Chile, until they found and bought a family home in Edmonds. This became Barbara and James cherished family home for 54 years.
Barbara, wanting to be involved both in a local church and ministries, soon had the family attending Edmonds United Methodist Church, where she and James led Sunday school classes and the youth group for a few years.
With all three children now attending school, Barbara was able to use her organizational and composition skills, becoming the International Secretary of Women's Aglow Fellowship, an interdenominational organization serving over 200,000 members in 171 countries.
Barbara was a focused and driven individual. She decided to contact the University of Washington, which found her old college transcripts, and began taking college classes again at Edmonds Community College.
In her fifties, she was by far the oldest student, having to take general studies classes, but seemed to strive in study groups and pairing up with younger study partners. Onward, she persevered until she was once again accepted to the University of Washington.
On many early mornings and rainy evenings, she drove from Edmonds to the University of Washington campus, attending lectures and classes, until she claimed – with immense pride – a degree in social work.
A heart to serve, she was hired as an ad litem, a representative appointed by a court to represent a child or adult, who is deemed unable to represent themselves in court. She represented and aided many minors, young women, and disadvantaged families disoriented during complex legal proceedings.
Barbara also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to children and families that had relocated to Edmonds from their home countries. Many of these children and families continued to correspond and visit with Barbara as they became young adults and engaged in the local community.
Barbara also very much enjoyed being a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, an international women's organization focused on providing educational opportunities for female students worldwide.
Not a day was empty.
Barbara's calendar was full of small print, scheduling her available time to play in numerous bridge card groups, and attending several Bible study and prayer groups. Church has always been a foremost pursuit, influence, and enjoyment. She met so many faithful friends while attending Woodinville Methodist Church and then North Sound Church in Edmonds.
During her final days, Barbara impressed her greatest loves were her husband, James Wilkinson, being a mother and grandmother, and being a Christian. Many friends and confidents have described Barbara as a "constant encourager to all people, a prayer warrior, and a beautiful and loyal friend." Yes, Barbara was gifted with friends of all ages. Philippians 4:4.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at North Sound Church in Edmonds. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Barbara Kay Wilkinson.