Born in Aurora, Illinois, and raised on Long Island during the war, Anne C. Wilkinson achieved scholarships and pursued a degree in chemistry and a minor in nursing. When she was reminded by the Mother Superior that a hospital was no place for emotions, she changed directions and applied to be a stewardess for United Airlines, (she would often do during her course of life). After receiving an unheard waiver for being a 1/4 inch too short (she would say they must have really wanted her). She flew DC-3s and DC 6s during the “Silver Age” of commercial aviation. A ramp acquaintance of Howard Hughes, a requested favorite of Eleanor Roosevelt, she met a lot of interesting people of the time. She was based in Chicago, Denver, but most enjoyed flying out of Seattle and living on Queen Anne hill in an old Victorian home known as the Pink Palace. Eventually, a small plane trip, to look at a small island for sale, would be her first visit to the islands.
While back in New York for a visit, a crowded subway train, and no seats, would lead her to meet her future husband, an air force fighter pilot straight out of the heart of Texas. Both Scorpios, it made for an interesting household to grow up in!
They would have three children: Robert, Terrence and Jeanne, and life would eventually lead them to Mercer Island in the 60s. A billboard requesting the last to leave to please turn out the lights would lead to the decision to get the kids out of the island “scene” and build a 46-foot ketch and sail the world. She mastered celestial navigation and all the required skill sets for circumnavigation. A move to Friday Harbor to build the boat morphed into her being a part of the golden age of island life; a mixture of old island hippies and families looking for something else. She had a real estate office in the old “Tourist Hotel” and was the “go-to” broker for a lot of the young people coming to the islands. As she would often say “We didn’t have any money, but everyone was pretty happy.”
An eventual shift, south to California, would be the catalyst for application to law school at age 50. The little old lady of the class, and as she would lament, the only practical use of her navigation skills were the more complex math questions on her law school entrance exam! After passing the California bar on her first attempt, she practiced law and was an adviser in California government well into her 70s.
She returned to the place she loved most and was able to enjoy being a part of her grandchildren lives, growing up in Friday Harbor.
She was always willing to try a new direction, she was never willing to give up and she was always unfailingly kind.
All in all, a life well spent…