Pat Wilkinson loved art, animals and her family

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | 6:55 p.m. CDT; updated 8:48 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

COLUMBIA — Pat Wilkinson was an artist. She painted, wood burned, scrimshawed, decorated gourds and created art in many other media. She was nationally recognized and, according to her son, Neal Wilkinson, "won virtually every time she entered anything."

"Art was her true love," her daughter, Heather Wilkinson, said. "I'd come home from school and she'd have a blowtorch in the garage making sterling silver jewelry."

Patricia "Pat" Wilkinson of Columbia died Monday, May 26, 2014, at Ashland Villa in Ashland. She was 75.

Mrs. Wilkinson was born Nov. 26, 1938, in Mexico, Mo., to Bill Denny and Louila Neal.

She met her husband, Tom Wilkinson, on a blind date, and they were engaged three months later. They married on July 11, 1959, and were married for 43 years until Tom's death in 2002.

"They had a true love," Heather Wilkinson said. "My dad would write love letters to her all the time; wherever he would be he would just jot down little things."

Mrs. Wilkinson grew up in Mexico, Mo., and earned her associate degree in fine arts from Christian College, now Columbia College, in 1958.

"She didn't realize she had any talent until she took an art class in high school, and she kind of blew away the art teacher," Heather Wilkinson said.

Mrs. Wilkinson was then offered a job by Hallmark to do illustrations, but she turned it down when she found out she was pregnant with her oldest child, Joe Wilkinson.

"She was a very good mother," Heather Wilkinson said. "Family was everything to her."

Mrs. Wilkinson also had a love for animals. Growing up she had cats and dogs, as well as a pet skunk and porcupine. Toward the end of her life, she adopted an asthmatic stray cat, which she named "Baby," who became a very important part of her life.

"She would have a bad day or not be feeling good and she would look at this cat and it just brought her into a place where she didn't feel pain anymore," Heather Wilkinson said. "This cat was like an angel to her."

Contrasting with her loving, compassionate side, Mrs. Wilkinson also had a spunky, spontaneous personality. She watched NASCAR, loved to gamble and even took her children on an unplanned road trip to Florida one spring break.

"I'd call her 'Tiger' sometimes because she just had this sort of spunk about her," Heather Wilkinson said. "She loved her art and she loved her family. She loved life."

Mrs. Wilkinson is survived by her son Joe Wilkinson of Kansas City; her son Neal Wilkinson and his wife, Lisa Wilkinson, both of Columbia; her daughter, Heather Wilkinson, and her husband, Jeff Lightfoot, both of Columbia; and her granddaughter, Susan Wilkinson of Columbia.

Her husband, Tom Wilkinson; her mother, Louila Neal; her father, Raymond Neal; and her birth father, Bill Denny, died previously.

Visitation will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the same location. Interment will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

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