St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rutherfordton, NC

The Life Journey of Hilda Wilson

A Life Filled with God & Music

Hilda WilsonHilda Wilson’s paternal grandmother took the eight children across a small stream on the Virginia farm on Sunday afternoons so she could teach Bible lessons to them and have a short Sunday service. This is what became a larger family so deeply embedded in the Christian lives of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from the 1800’s over into the 1900’s and 2000’s and today.

Her father, uncle (and his boss) established Ardmore Methodist Church in Winston Salem, N.C. in 1925 (out of Centenary Methodist Church closer to the center city). There she was the first baby baptized in July, 1925, having been born on a Monday following her mother’s dutiful attendance on Sunday, the day before.

Hilda’s was a musical family with five children. Her Dad traded the upright piano for a baby grand when she began piano lessons at eight years old. Her sister was already in college as an organ/music major; all five of them sang in the varied age choirs, school glee club, and played in the music programs. When she was ten and-a-half years old, she played for the Beginners and Nursery school before rushing off to her own age class, along with the uncle’s daughters. They all sang in the Senior Choir by age fourteen.

One of Hilda’s frightening memories of her youth was when she was given one teaspoon of arsenic by mistake. Hilda said “This doesn’t taste like my cough medicine. It tastes like water.” After her parents called the doctor he told them to rush her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. Speeding to the hospital her father was stopped by the police and ended up getting a police escort to the hospital, complete with siren.

There was no choice about a college major after singing in her senior high school state contests, with both of her musical families participating. Her husband Jack’s sister taught school music for 35 years; his brother and wife taught music in Kentucky for 34 years. Jack was a soloist in college, sang with the Oratorio Societies where ever they lived up and down the east Coast as Jack was transferred by his three companies (after teaching four years in Berea, Gastonia, Belmont and Winston Salem). Hilda said, “Thank heaven he had the position in Winston Salem – so we could meet.”

At one time Hilda worked at St. John’s Lutheran School in Winston Salem teaching kindergarten in the morning and music accompanist for kindergarten through eighth grade otherwise. A mother of an upper class student let Hilda know how much she and her family appreciated the Methodist Quartet singing for her dad’s funeral way out in the country several years before. She had found out Hilda’s maiden name was Nunn; Hilda’s dad and uncle had been half of that quarter and she remembered the name.

Jack and Hilda lived in several towns and states. And in all of them they were active church members and loved every church they were part of. Their three children and spouses are raising eight very active members of their Episcopal/Lutheran churches, and all eight participate in the music programs in church and school. The oldest goes to college next year and her major is? Music – you guessed it.

Hilda’s dear Jack is no doubt in the heavenly choir now along with Baptist brother Harry, his mom and dad and Hilda’s parents also. Working at St. Francis with the younger children; teaching the young voices to praise and worship; hoping they find joy in singing, not just talking; hoping some one or two of them find music to be a treasured talent and gift to others; this is Hilda’s goal for them. And she said that this is the last place, after thirteen moves, where she will be working toward that goal.

Hilda said she thanks God for the talent and gift and thanks her parents for having a fifth child. We thank God for Hilda and all she means to St. Francis.

{Editor's Note: Hilda moved to Kentucky in 2009 in order to live closer to her family}

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