Freda Wilder


Freda Wilder
Aug. 26, 1926 - Sept. 11, 2011

Freda Maxine Wilder died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Walla Walla under hospice care on Sept. 11, 2011. She was born in Lamar, Mo., to Fred Embert and Anna Maude Divine on Aug. 26, 1926. Freda married Philip F. Wilder on Sept. 3, 1943, in Joplin, Mo., and had five children, 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.

She was the hub of her family's life, providing sage advice on home-health remedies, personal problems, cooking, decorating, gardening, and fashion. Freda loved children and animals, and they all sensed and reveled in her delight. She was a gifted listener, encouraging and praising her family's dreams and endeavors up to the very end. She cooked Sunday dinner every week of her adult life until she was too ill to stand. Even then, she advised and directed the cooking, whenever asked. Her interests were vast and well-informed, allowing her to carry on lively conversations ranging from professional sports to curing diaper rash. She loved sewing, and in her children's early years, she made all their clothes.

Freda was the first woman in her family to go to work outside the home and to drive a car. Her employment began by caring for an elderly neighbor where she learned to make the best pies on earth. In Missouri, she worked in shirt factories doing piece work. Upon moving with her family to Walla Walla, she gained employment at Gardener's Department Store, doing alterations, then assisting with weddings, which was her all-time favorite job. At Gardner's, she was trained in mixing, applying, and selling custom-made cosmetics. Later, she was promoted to the manager/
buyer for the children's department. She left Gardner's to work at The Villager in retail sales. In 1976, she graduated from the Mr. Charles School of Beauty and practiced hair dressing at Lady Elegance Salon. When Hatfield's Department Store opened in Eastgate, she took an offer to manage their children's department, which she did until she retired in 1989. During her work life, Freda was an outspoken advocate for fair compensation and was often chosen as the staff spokesperson. From 1983 to 1987, she served on the Dixie Elementary School Board where many of her grandchildren attended.

She was preceded in death by eight of her siblings, Burl Leon Divine, Edna Joyce Henson, Eldon Leroy Divine, Verna Roseman Height, Cecil Gerald Divine, Sadie Ethel Divine, Ruth Lorraine Slankard, and Fredie Louis Divine. To her great sorrow, her grandson, James Ray Wilder, also preceded her in death. Surviving Freda are her youngest brother, Darrell Max Divine; her husband, Philip F. Wilder; and her five children, Phillip Ray Wilder, Bobby Joe Wilder, Dixie Jeanie Bee, Patricia Lynn Divine Wilder, and Deborah Sue Miller.

Funeral services will be held at Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W Alder, Walla Walla, at 10 a.m., on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. There will be a private family viewing, followed by the interment ceremony at Ivy Cemetery in Prescott. Memorial contributions may be made to the Walla Walla Community Hospice through the funeral home.
Friends and family are invited to sign the online guest book at


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