Many times in our lives we will cross paths with someone who will have a lasting impact on us. These people may be relatives, friends, or just someone we meet once in passing. The memories of these people, and what we learn from them, are what we come to define as ourselves; as what we pattern ourselves to be. These people are the fabric of our being. This is our basis of self, and our understanding of worth.
Wilma Ladley Was born in 1917 on a small farm in southern Ohio, and grew up during the Depression. This past, and an upbringing from a strong family, firmly embedded in her the traditional values that made her what she was. She moved to Michigan while still a young adult, settling in Ypsilanti. She brought with her pieces of this history, and a piece of many people’s future.
Wilma was a strong woman, and yet gentle. She was best known for being very honest and forthcoming, often to the embarrassment of others, and for being a caring person. No one who knew her would deny that any offer to help was self-less and without expectations, and any favor to her was repaid two-fold. Many people would say that they are indebted to her. I would be one of them.
Wilma was a simple person, loving the basic things in life the most. She believed simply that you do what you think is right, you say what you mean, and you help those you love. For Wilma, this was most things and most people. Many people who met her could be taken aback at first by her casual straight-forwardness, and her knack for blatantly stating her opinions without reservation. She had said, more than once, that she would rather someone would hate her for what she thought, than like her for what she didn’t. You did not need to wonder what she thought of you, as she would most certainly tell you herself. She also had a simple “Ohioan” way of saying things that caught on when you heard it. This was one of her traits which many found the most endearing.
Wilma lived a full life, helping many people find the path in life which they wanted to follow, and she plowed her own path with an uncommon strength of character. She worked in the Ypsilanti bomber plant during World War Two (the source of many Rosie jokes from me), managed a boarding house for “newcomers to town”, ran a catering company and then two ice cream parlors, supervised the kitchen at Eastern Michigan University and then, after retiring due to a medical condition causing her to lose her sight, went on to assist at a local day care center for many years.
Wilma was a strong woman, but not stronger than the will of time. She passed away peacefully while in her sleep on the morning of Friday, April 25, 2008 at the age of 91 years. Her long and successful life ended peacefully and quietly at her home, the one place she loved most, with her closest family at her side.
Wilma’s passing will leave a hole in many lives, and she will be sorely missed by the people whose lives she touched. Her passing is a sad day in many ways, but she is not gone. Like a beacon on a hill, her memory will lead many people down the path which Wilma’s life inspired in them. She lives on in the hopes, the dreams, and the actions of all of those whose lives she touched. Those we love are reflected for eternity in the future through the actions which they inspire in us.
My life has been impacted, and influenced, by many people, but few as much as Wilma. I pattern many of the things about myself after her. My time with her was always special, and a piece of my heart will always rest with her. The memory of our time will always be with me, and in this her beacon will continue to shine, leading the path of others which I can only hope to inspire as she did me.
This is for all of Wilma’s friends…
Kenneth C Coe, Jr
For those who where unable to make it to the services but were there in spirit, you can can email me for an MP3 of the ceremony.