Wilma Lauretta Wilson was born on a farm outside of Cainsville in Harrison county, Missouri on April 13, 1921 to Loren Ariel Willis and Minnie Dallas (Snethen) Willis. She departed this life on November 20, 2011 in Riverside, California at age 90 years.
Wilma moved to Mount Ayr at age six and attended local schools. As a member of the class of 1939 at Mount Ayr high school she played on the state champions basketball team and performed in both junior and senior play productions. In 1942 in Des Moines she met taxi driver Rickola S. C. Wilson over the soda fountain where she worked as a waitress. After military service they married on January 14, 1945 in San Francisco.
As did many other Americans, Wilma answered her country’s call to arms and in 1943 was accepted into just the third class of the United States Women’s Marine Corps. She attended boot camp at Hunter’s College in New York City, radio building/repair and Morse code training in Omaha and was assigned to the 100 Harrison Street Detachment in San Francisco where she rose to the rank of staff sergeant. She mustered out in 1946.
Along with husband Rick she became a California state employee and from 1950 until 1984 was a personnel representative at both Soledad and Chino prisons. After state service she worked for five years in a delicatessen, three years as a hospital volunteer and finally another eight years in sales for Hancock Fabrics, finally retiring in 2005 at age 84.
She was a 25-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Greenfield, California and a charter member and past four-time president of the Palms-to-Pines Chapter CA-8 of the Women’s Marine Association in Riverside, California.
Wilma was preceded in death by her parents, husband and brothers Frank Willis and Basil Willis.
She is survived by brother Jerry Willis of Missoula, Montana; sons Michael Wilson of Morro, California and Steve Wilson and Martin Wilson of Corona, California; grandchildren Jenny Jarvis of Castroville, California and Steven Wilson of Twain Harte, California; stepson Glenn Wilson of Mount Dora, Florida; stepgrandaughters Sandra Wilson of Acworth, Georgia and Sharon Wilson of Slidell, Louisiana; cousins Gayle Buckner of Mount Ayr, Iowa and Esta Helton of Gilmore City, Missouri, and six great-grandchildren.
Internment will be December 9 at 1:30 p.m. at Riverside National Cemetery with services to follow at Norco Christian Church in Norco, California.