Jan. 19, 1926 - Dec. 16, 2011
Philip Fay Wilder died at Walla Walla General Hospital on Dec. 16, 2011. He was born in Cheboygan, Mich., on Jan. 19, 1926, to Harold and Edna Wilder.
Philip married Freda Divine on Sept. 3, 1943, in Joplin, Mo. Philip served in the Army from March 23, 1944, until March 3, 1946, as a member of the 1264 Engineering C Battalion. During his World War II service, he earned the Victory Ribbon, European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and two Overseas Bars. While he was in Germany, Freda gave birth to
their first child.
In the mid-1950s, he and Freda bought a farm outside of Oronogo, Mo., where they raised livestock and farmed for about 10 years, until he was injured in a horseback accident. Over the years, they had five children, 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.
Philip was a talented musician, mechanic and all-around handyman. He began his long work history in Joplin, Mo., leaving school in seventh grade during the Depression. He held physical labor jobs most of his life, working in factories and steel mills. When he and his wife moved their family to Walla Walla in 1965, he found employment at Ben Hunt Mfg. Company as a grinder and welder. As a strong labor-union advocate, he pressed for a union at Ben Hunt, helped organize a strike and was terminated. After that, he gained his G.E.D. at Walla Walla Community College and was hired in 1975 at the Washington State Penitentiary, where he worked until his retirement in 1988.
After his retirement, he and Freda built their dream home on Mill Creek Road. They sold it after the flood of 1996 and moved into town.
Philip was a fair-minded man who believed in hard work balanced with hard play. He loved gathering with family and friends to play his guitar, sing and dance. He enjoyed the outdoors, fishing, hunting, water skiing and riding motorcycles. He taught himself his crafts, which included repairing, painting and reupholstering automobiles and motorcycles; all aspects of home-building and repair; leather work; and woodworking.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harold Wilder and Edna Serven; three of his siblings, Howard Wilder, Tom Wilder and Helen Bray; his grandson, James Ray Wilder; and his wife of 68 years, Freda Wilder, who died Sept. 11, 2011. Surviving Philip are two sisters, Winifred Jackson and Nada Bray; and all of his children, Phillip Ray Wilder, Bobby Joe Wilder, Dixie Jeanie Bee, Patricia Lynn Divine Wilder and Deborah Sue Miller.
On Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, a graveside service will be held at Ivy Cemetery in Prescott, at 2 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Walla Walla Community Hospice through Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W Alder, Walla Walla WA, 99362. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at www.herringgroseclose.com. xx