CASTLE HAYNE — Katheryn Eloise Taylor Wilson, 89, peacefully passed away in hospice care with her son Rick by her side Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, one day before her 90th birthday.
Katheryn was born Aug. 7, 1931, in DeQueen, Arkansas, the third of four children of Alfred Watson Taylor and Manila Suggs Taylor. When she was almost 6 years old, her parents decided to move to Fayetteville so their children could all go to the university. With only a few dollars and no place to live, they packed their old Chevrolet with clothes, bedding, food and an oil stove. Upon arriving in Fayetteville, they found a house to stay in for a month if they agreed to clean it up and maintain the yard.
Just in time for the start of the school year, the family found a better house to rent and sent for their furniture and cow to be transported on a flat-bed truck. Katheryn’s father found a job at the V.A. hospital and her mother supported the family in other ways until she eventually was hired to run the V.A. hospital post office. All four children completed four-year degrees at the University of Arkansas, each helping the next in line after they graduated.
Katheryn completed her final year of high school in Madison, Wisconsin, where she stayed with her sister Hazel. She then graduated from the University of Arkansas in three years with a B.A. Degree in Social Welfare in 1951. She recalled the hourlong walk from home to her classes, and her work on the afternoon shift at the post office her mother managed. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa the year she graduated. She also worked in Little Rock as a child welfare worker in training.
She had been accepted at Tulane for graduate school. This plan changed when she came home for Christmas vacation and went on a double date with a young man she had long had a crush on, now a PFC in the Marines. She had met Raymond when she was 12, a pitcher for her softball team, and went to his school to play. He was the umpire, and she recalled that he was the cutest thing she had ever seen! They were married Dec. 23, 1951.
As is typical of families in the Marines, Katheryn’s family and work life involved many moves, including several locations in North Carolina, California and Texas. She lived with her parents during Raymond’s tours in Korea and Okinawa. Her son Rick was born in Jacksonville in 1957, and her son Allen in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1962.
Katheryn worked in social welfare, the field she had chosen at age 15, for her entire career. One of her early positions was with the Carteret County Department of Social Services starting in 1955, where she managed the caseload for one-third of the county. She juggled roles that included parole officer, juvenile court counselor, selective service advisor, and trying to keep Harkers Island’s children in school past the eighth grade. She then worked with the Onslow County Department of Social Services for the first time in the late 1950s, returning there in 1965 when Raymond again returned to Camp LeJeune. At that time, she worked with girls placing babies for adoption and helped license foster homes.
After Raymond’s retirement from the Marines in 1967, the family moved to Castle Hayne, where they built the house they lived in ever since. Katheryn worked at the New Hanover Department of Social Services in several positions, finally returning to Onslow County Social Services in 1981 to work in in-home care. As her colleagues put it, when she retired eight years later, “because once you have worked in Onslow, you are never truly happy working anywhere else.” They concluded, “Katheryn’s sense of humor and her commitment to her clients will be sorely missed by her fellow workers. She is truly a social worker’s social worker.”
Long after her retirement, she was known to stay in touch with clients she had helped as their caseworker, including foster children after they reached adulthood; she continued to support them in any way she could.
Katheryn was a member of McClure Presbyterian Church in Castle Hayne. After her retirement, she volunteered at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, a hospice center. In recent years after the death of her husband and son Allen, she and her son Rick lived together in their family home. He cared for her devotedly as she gradually developed Alzheimer’s and became less independent. Katheryn will be remembered lovingly by many family members, former coworkers, friends and fellow church members for her warmth, generosity and humor.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 51 years, Raymond Wilson; cherished son, Allen Wilson; sisters, Hazel Taylor Spitze and Gladys Taylor Price; and brother, Alfred William Taylor. She is survived by her son, Rick Wilson; sister-in-law, Paula Taylor; and many loving nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m., Friday, Aug. 13, at Greenlawn Memorial Park. The family requests that all those in attendance please wear a mask and practice social distancing.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401.
Share online condolences with the family at Coble Funeral and Cremation Service at Greenlawn Memorial Park.