This was what I wrote for my mom’s memorial service – September 14, 2011. I love you mom!
Memories of my Mom – Mary Ann Wilkerson Coppinger May 25, 1931 – September 7, 2011
I know everyone says their mother is the best, but mine REALLY WAS THE BEST!
I can never remember a time when we ever didn’t have what we needed, even wanted…
Mom taught by example. I watched her – I learn a lot by seeing how people do things and mom was the best teacher. I may not have always done what she did, but I knew what I needed to do –
- To have a relationship with the Lord – Mom was up early praying and reading her bible EVERY morning. This foundation showed in everything else she did.
- I learned…To keep a clean house while working 40 hours a week took sacrifice and tenacity.
- I learned early on…if you wanted to go shopping with mom…you did the housework FAST on Saturday!
- I learned….Everything has a place and everything in its place…I can still hear that in my head.
- I learned…That Consistency and Faithfulness were standards in her character – faithful to her Lord, to her family, employers, church. She was consistent in pretty much everything…even the basics.
- Just a small example: A few of my family were talking just last night that she even had cookie sheets she’s had for 20+ years that are still spotless, all because she took the time to keep them that clean…to take care of them.
- I learned…that Organization and Administration were high on her list of gifts. These showed how she could organize her busy life, how she remembered to take care of all the details of running her home and her office. I’ve been blessed to have been given some of these gifts in order to do what I do in life and for this, I’m VERY THANKFUL!
- I learned…that hospitality was a huge part of her ministry. Our home was an open door. She loved to bake and cook… I love to go through her recipes remembering some of her favorites. She very well known for this certain “frozen salad” that was a family favorite…
- I learned that…ROAST COOKING IN THE OVEN IS THE BEST SMELL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! AND Sunday dinners are the most special!
- I learned that…birthdays are very special. I have such fond memories of going out to lunch and dress shopping every year. She loved to do this with both of us – spoil us is what she did.
- l learned…that mom loved to laugh – a day’s events could be told in such a way that we would be belly laughing about it… We could still get mom to laugh even to the end by just looking into her eyes and smiling… She would light up and giggle.
- I learned how to worship the Lord… Mom had a love of singing – choirs, small groups, solo’s…all in her own style and way; she loved to worship the Lord. She would sit at the piano, even when she began to show the signs of Alzheimer’s, and play an old hymn and sing. And later when she couldn’t even communicate, she would be watching a Gather video and humming in harmony. This brings me to my most special memory…
During this time when mom was slowly losing her abilities, she couldn’t sing – her voice was not working anymore like she wanted it to – and this troubled her. She told me one day in her bedroom that she had been praying so hard about this and the Lord comforted her telling her that it was going to be okay, this gift wasn’t being lost – it was being passed to me.
Even though much of who she was taken little by little, I learned that….I am who I am because of who SHE was. I WILL REMEMBER AND HONOR WHO SHE WAS AND HER EXAMPLE TO ME AND THANK MY GOD THAT I AM HER DAUGHTER.
Mary Ann Wilkerson Coppinger went to be with the Lord with great peace on Wednesday, September 07, 2011. At her side, and always for the past 52 years, was her husband Bob. Mary Ann Wilkerson was born to Rev. James A. and Lorna Maxine Wilkerson on May 25, 1931 in Hammond, Indiana. She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Robert Coppinger, daughters Carol Tate and Karen Hagan, her grandchildren Joshua & Jonathan Tate and Joslyn Hagan Valle, Tyler, Kramer and Spencer Hagan, her seven siblings, Jessie Mercer, Elaine Eslinger, Paul, John and Gordon Wilkerson, Elsie Whitmore and Carol Starr.
Mary Ann (Mary to her family) was raised as a pastor’s daughter and that foundation instilled within her a love for the Lord and His work. During her college days at Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Missouri, she traveled with her brother John Wilkerson on evangelistic crusades singing and playing the vibraphone. Her letters home spoke of many being saved and getting the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Sometime after leaving college, Mary began working in the school office where she met Rev. Clyde Henson, a visiting minister who was then pastor of Bethel Temple here in Sacramento. He was looking for a secretary at the time and asked if she would be interested in the job. Surprisingly she agreed and he hired her on the spot. She moved out to Sacramento in the summer of 1958 at the age of 26.
Soon after the move out West, she met and fell in love with, in her words “…the finest, most noble fellow God could ever bring into my life.” In a letter written to her mother in October of 1958, she wrote, “The stars, the butterflies and the thrills are all present and continuous.” They married on February 21, 1959 among family and friends at the old Bethel Temple on 21st and W Streets. Her boss and Pastor, Clyde Henson gave her away and thus began the next 52 years of living life together.
Mary Ann loved music from an early age and was very involved in the music ministry at Bethel, singing in the choir and with the small group known as the Bethelaires. This group sang on the television program at the time called “Our Story.” She spent many years singing in Singing Christmas Tree and Easter productions, every Sunday morning and night church services, and rehearsals every Thursday night were the norm in her life.
Mary Ann was gifted in administration. Although she began her career working for several pastors at Bethel Temple and Capital Christian Center, she then spent the next 20 years with the State Legislature working for Senator Way and Richardson, Assemblyman Eric Seastrand and Assemblywoman Andrea Seastrand until her retirement in November of 1994 at the age of 65. During her service with the State, she was part of a Bible Study held during lunch weekly. She often spoke of how much she enjoyed this and that she loved being able to study the Word of God with her fellow workers.
After her retirement, Mary Ann continued her love of the Word of God joining the Women of the Word (WOW) bible study at Capital Christian Center where she became a group leader. One of her joys was to teach others what God had shown her through His Word and this gave her lots of opportunity to do just that. She would spend hours studying so that she could present the teaching with confidence. She loved her group of ladies.
Known for her writing ability, she could be counted on by her employers to handle business correspondence, especially during her years with the Legislature. God, however, gave her the gift to write stories and poems, always with a moral or spiritual connection to them. Her funny sense of humor shined through. One of her stories, autobiographical, entitled The Red Sock, was published in the Pentecostal Evangel.
Mary Ann loved having friends and family over to her home for fellowship and food. She had an open door to many for Sunday dinners of roast and all the fixings. That is one of the best memories we, as family, have was the “smell” of dinner cooking coming home after church. She became known as a great cook and her kitchen became the family hang out – much to her frustration at times – trying to get the food on the table. But she loved every minute of it.
Her children and grandchildren ALL loved her dearly. She spoiled each of us in her unique way. Christmas Eve was a family favorite. The kids couldn’t wait to get to grandma’s house for presents and we spent many nights buried in wrapping paper with loud yells of joy as each would open a gift.
During her later years, as her life was being overtaken by Alzheimer’s, it was very hard for us to watch who she was being stripped away. She fought a hard battle with this terrible disease and we are very thankful that she is finally free and with the Lord, singing praises to him as she loved to do here.
She leaves big shoes to fill, but she instilled much to her daughters and grandchildren – her rich heritage filled with a love of the Word, praising God and loving others. We all can say with full confidence from Proverbs 31:
10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.