ELEANOR HOLMES WILDER|
June 6, 1931 – March 13, 2012
Born Eleanor Mae Holmes, she was the daughter of Robert Roy Holmes and Vallie Grey (nee Hight) Holmes Cooke and the step-daughter of Fred H. Cooke. Eleanor grew up in the Pocomoke Community, which was also known at the time as “The Hurricanes.” Eleanor graduated as valedictorian of the Wilton, NC High School Class of 1948 and continued her education at Kings Business College with a Secretarial Degree.
It was during her following employment with Durham Life when Eleanor was “spotted on a street corner in downtown Raleigh” in March 1952, by John Lee Wilder, the love of her life and husband of over 59 years. It took John Lee a full week to find out Eleanor’s name so he could ask her out for their first date, and after a 7 month courtship, John Lee and Eleanor were married on November 9, 1952 at Pope’s Chapel Church, her childhood church, in Franklinton.
For approximately the next 30 years, while John Lee farmed the family land, Eleanor worked in the home and raised their 4 children. As the nest emptied, Eleanor re-started her professional career in the early 1980s as a part-time bookkeeper with Franklinton City Schools. She retired in 2002 at the age of 71 after 20 years of service with the Franklinton City and Franklin County School Systems.
As a resident of the lesser Needmoor and greater Mitchiner’s Crossroads communities, Eleanor was a member of her husband’s family church, Perry’s Chapel Baptist Church. Eleanor knew the importance of Church attendance and participation and demonstrated this through her faithful and reverent service to her Lord, Jesus Christ. She held many positions, some of them leadership, within the church, including pianist, organist, Music Director, Sunday School teacher & Deacon. Eleanor’s faith and service also extended out to other churches and communities, where she played music for many weddings, funerals and services.
Eleanor is survived by her husband, John Lee Wilder; sisters, Margaret H. Davis (husband Carlton) of Youngsville, NC and Sarah H. Whitfield (husband Phil) of Franklinton, NC; daughter, Jan W. Strickland (daughter Laura); sons, Rian D. Wilder (wife Gail and sons Brandon and Clint), Barry D. Wilder, and Darin N. Wilder (wife Laura Hall, daughter Maggie and son Noah). She is also survived by many wonderful friends, coworkers, neighbors and families in Christ, who loved her, rejoiced with her in times of prosperity and lifted her up in times of turmoil.
Eleanor was predeceased by her father, her mother, whom she greatly loved, honored and respected, and her brother Richard R. Holmes.
As a final gift to others, Eleanor donated her body to the UNC Medical System for scientific research and training in hopes that rising new doctors could learn and hopefully save lives of others in the future.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Eleanor Wilder will be held on Saturday, March 24, at 5:00 PM at Franklinton Baptist Church in Franklinton, NC. Family visitation will follow the service in the Church fellowship hall.
In lieu of flowers and cards, the family requests that contributions be sent to Franklinton Baptist Church, PO Box 477, Franklinton, NC 27525 with monies designated for Franklinton’s multi-Church Community Food Pantry. As many know, John Lee and Eleanor’s table was open to everyone. If someone came to their home during meal times, you were invited and expected to break bread and eat with them. It is only fitting that Eleanor’s memory be honored by helping those who struggle to put food on their own tables.