Billy Ray “Red” Wilkinson, 72, of Iantha, Mo., died Friday, December 29, at Freeman Hospital, surrounded by his family. He was born in Fredericktown, August 24, 1945, to Lloyd Sylvester and Loretta Rose Mills Wilkinson.
He was preceded in death by his father Lloyd Wilkinson.
He is survived by his wife of almost 40 years Charleen K. (Smith) Wilkinson; his mother Loretta Rose Wilkinson of Festus; a daughter Katie Whitekiller and husband Charles of Neosho, Mo.; sons Billy Wilkinson and wife Lori of Sand Springs, OK, Matt Hymer and wife Holly of Seneca, MO, Chris Hymer of Seneca, MO, and Jacob Hymer and wife Kristie of Willard MO; grandchildren, Jeff and wife Talor, Josh and wife Casey, Justin and wife Christin, Hannah, Jessica, Lyndie, Lucy, Jacoby, Lance, Brady, Davy and wife Taylor, Rachel, Mason, Dachel, Kailey, and Austin; and great-granddaughters Madison, Molly, Murphy, and Sophia. Also Surviving are sisters: Betty Ciolek, Ruth Greishaber, and Nancy White, and brothers Henry, Ted, Charles, and Tom, and many nieces and nephews.
Red attended Fredericktown High School and then attended college at School of the Ozarks where he received an Associate in Business degree and was on the fire department where he became the youngest Fire Chief in the State of Missouri at age 17. He continued in the fire service for the next 26 years serving on the fire department in Seneca and helped establish the certification program for the University of Missouri Fire Academy. He worked at BF Goodrich in Miami, Oklahoma for 19 years and was in charge of fire safety and training.
After BF Goodrich closed, he returned to college and completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. He started his nursing career at Oak Hill Hospital in Joplin, followed by Barton County Hospital in Lamar. He served as the Director of Nursing at Buena Vista in Carthage and Joplin Healthcare Center. He retired from nursing in 2010 from Barton County Hospital and retired a second time from Truman Healthcare and Rehab in 2017 at the age of 71.
He coached his daughter Katie's softball team, the Seneca Milnot Whippettes, as well as Little League and Babe Ruth teams in Jasper. As his family grew, he loved spending time with his grandkids and watching their many activities. His was so proud of his family and loved to hunt and fish with his sons and grandkids, and watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball.
There was a memorial service on January 6 at the Lamar United Methodist Church in Lamar. Burial was at the Iantha Cemetery immediately following the service.