Evelyn Estelle Isenhour Wilkerson
Black Mountain -- Estelle Wilkerson, 93, died Friday morning, December 23, 2011, at Highland Farms following an extended illness.
Estelle was born August 30, 1918 in Rowan County, North Carolina, where she grew up, attending school in Woodleaf, a small rural farming community near Salisbury. She attended Montreat Junior College and later graduated from the University of Virginia in 1942 with a B.S. in Nursing Education. She was a Nursing Arts Instructor in the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1942 to 1946, following which she studied Mandarin Chinese at Yale Language School in preparation for the mission field.
She married Joseph Leyburn Wilkerson, a surgeon, in January of 1948, after which husband and wife sailed to China as medical missionaries, where they were assigned to Kashing Christian Hospital, several hours southwest of Shanghai. Estelle returned to the United States the following year because of the war in China. She and Joseph subsequently traveled to Taiwan, again as medical missionaries, in 1953, where Estelle was active in nursing education at Changhwa Christian Hospital until 1980. She also engaged in a variety of other types of mission work, including teaching middle and high school students at Morrison Academy, a school in Taichung established for the children of missionaries.
She and her husband later served for two years at the Home Mission Hospital in Beverly, Kentucky from 1981 to 1983, and went to Pakistan as missionaries for several months in 1984. They permanently retired to Montreat, North Carolina in 1985 and moved to Highland Farms in 1999. Joseph died in 2001.
Estelle is survived by a son, Stephen, and a daughter-in-law, Rose, and their three children, Oriane, Cythera, and Joseph; a daughter, Nancy, a son-in-law, Rob, and their two children, Michele and Andrew; a son, Douglas, a daughter-in-law, Kyoko, and their child, Alex. A brother, Donald, a sister, Rebecca, and a son, Donald Joseph, predeceased her.
Estelle was loved by everyone who knew her. She was a bright light in some of the dark places of this world.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: CarePartners Hospice Foundation, P.O. Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813 or through their website, www.carepartnersfoundation.org.
A memorial service will be held at Highland Farms at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Janury 7, with Rev. Richard White officiating.