- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), A23, 27 Oct 2000.
Benjamin D. "Ben D." Stokely obituary
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 16 Nov 2006.
Dykeman Honored For Literary Contributions
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
CHATTANOOGA--Novelist and essayist Wilma Dykeman, of Newport, TN, and Asheville, NC, is one of eight new authors chosen for membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Elected along with Dykeman were essayist Roy Blount, Jr.; fiction writers Randall Kenan, Dorothy Allison, and Edward P. Jones; poet Andrew Hudgins; editor and anthologist Shannon Ravenel; and playwright Alfred Uhry.
Announcement of the election results was made by novelist Richard Bausch, chancellor of the Fellowship. The new members will be installed at the Fellowship's biennial awards convocation in Chattanooga in March.
Dykeman, best known for her novels, biographies, and histories dealing with the Appalachian South, is a native of Asheville, NC.
In particular her three works of fiction, "The Tall Woman" (1962), "The Far Family" (1966), and "Return the Innocent Earth" (1973) address issues of social change, cultural stress, and the role of women in her home territory.
With her husband, the late James R. Stokely, she wrote "Neither Black Nor White," (1957) and "Seeds of Southern Change" (1962).
The Fellowship of Southern Writers, founded in 1989, awards prizes to younger writers and recognizes distinguished achievement in Southern letters through election to membership. Among its founding members were Eudora Welty, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Shelby Foote, John Hope Franklin, Walker Percy, Ernest Gaines, C. Vann Woodward, William Styron, and Elizabeth Spencer.
- [S27] The Daily Times, http://www.thedailytimes.com/, (Blount County, Tennessee), 24 Dec 2006.
Renowned Appalachian author Wilma Dykeman dies
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Wilma Dykeman, who chronicled the people of Appalachia and the land that shaped them in 18 novels and nonfiction books, died Friday, a family friend and spokeswoman said. She was 86.
Dykeman had been in failing health since fracturing a hip two months ago, suffering a staph infection after a hip replacement, family spokeswoman Karen Cragnolin said. She had moved into a hospice 10 days before her death.
Dykeman is considered a literary bridge between the era of fellow Asheville native Thomas Wolfe and the current generation of Appalachian writers. She was among the first writers to offer a stark portrait of what she called "the unique virtues and tragic flaws" of mountain people.
Her first book was "The French Broad," published in 1955. It proved to be deeply influential on Appalachian writers and was described by one critic as a "love poem" to the region and its people.
"She was trying to present a realistic view: 'Here is who we are and why we are this way,"' best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb told the Citizen-Times of Asheville.
"The French Broad" was part of the acclaimed "Rivers of America Series," fusing history, environmental activism and folklore in a way that inspired other authors from the region to look to their heritage for subject matter.
"I think it would be hard to overestimate her importance," said Robert Morgan, a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and author of the best-seller "Gap Creek."
"Though I grew up in Henderson County on a little farm, I had never been a student of the region until I read the book," he said. "After that I started thinking more and more about the history, the Cherokee Indians, the geology and that type of thing."
Dykeman grew up in the Beaverdam community of Buncombe County. She attended Biltmore Junior College in Asheville and Northwestern University in Illinois, where she majored in speech.
Wolfe's sister, Mabel, introduced her to James R. Stokely Jr., a Tennessee poet whose father was president of Stokely Canning Co. The two married in 1940, shortly after she graduated from college, and kept homes in Asheville and Newport, Tenn.
They wrote several books together as well, including "Neither Black nor White" in 1957, which won the Sidney Hillman Award as the best book of the year on world peace, race relations or civil liberties.
"They were a true partnership in every sense of the word," said Jeff Daniel Marion, an author based in Knoxville, Tenn. "From the standpoint of being partners in writing, partners in marriage and partners in having similar points of view."
The couple had two children, Dykeman Stokely and James R. Stokely III, also authors. Dykeman's husband died in 1977 at age 64.
Dykeman's nonfiction books included biographies of Will Alexander, a champion of racial equality, and Edna Rankin McKinnon, an early proponent of birth control.
She was named Tennessee State Historian in 1981, and was also a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and an active public speaker, giving what she once estimated as 50 to 75 lectures a year.
Marion, a former English professor and director of the Appalachian Center at Carson-Newman College, said Dykeman has never received the recognition she's due.
"The focus has been either too much on Wilma as a novelist, or on Wilma as a newspaper writer, but not enough on the total Wilma Dykeman and the force that she was in this world," Marion said.
- [S28] Newspaper Article, Citizen-Times (Asheville), 24 Dec 2006.
Dykeman lived her life for ‘mighty’ purposes
published December 24, 2006 12:15 am
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” – George Bernard Shaw
Wilma Dykeman wrote that George Bernard Shaw spoke for her in the words quoted above. There can be no doubt she knew the “true joy in life” all her 86 years.
A brilliant light, warm and steady, though sometimes twinkling with a wicked wit, went out in Asheville Friday with her death.
She left us 18 books that radiate her passion for the people and mountains of her birth, for knowledge, for justice, for beauty, for language itself.
But all who knew her will miss her clever wisecracks, her lively laughter, her probing curiosity, her ardent advocacy for a healthy earth.
Ahead of her time
Dykeman blazed trails in environmentalism, civil rights and feminism. And she was a seminal force in Appalachian literature earning homage from literary heirs such as best-selling authors Robert Morgan and Sharyn McCrumb.
She wrote under her own name at a time when it never occurred to most folks that a married woman could keep her maiden surname.
Her book “The French Broad” made its appearance in 1955, seven years before Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”
Her negotiation with the publisher tells much about her character.
After her husband, James Stokely, suggested she write about the river, she wrote the publisher of The Rivers of America series.
Rinehart Company (later Holt, Rinehart) wrote back that they weren’t going to invest in any of the smaller rivers, but that if a book were interesting enough, they would publish one about a river “no wider than a man’s hand.”
Dykeman took this as a challenge and sent them a chapter and an outline.
The response was favorable, but they wanted her to remove a proposed chapter on pollution.
“I hesitated, then replied that I had to have this chapter but I would try to make it interesting,” she told guests at an award ceremony in 2001. “I would call it ‘Who killed the French Broad?’ Perhaps people would think it was a murder mystery. (Of course, it was murder but not a mystery.) At publication, that chapter received more response, from Raleigh to California, than any other part of the book.”
In 1955, she understood what many of us still struggle to comprehend: “…When we turned away from the spring at the edge of the kitchen yard and turned on the faucet in our porcelain sink, we turned off our interest in what came out of the spigot. One by one we allowed ourselves and others to begin the rape which finally (in places) ended in the murder of the French Broad….”
The impact of her words is hard to calculate, but growing public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution led in 1972 to enactment of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (later the Clean Water Act) to regulate discharges of pollutants into U.S. waters.
“I think she awoke not just the region, but the nation to the intrinsic value of our natural resources like our water and our mountains,” said Karen Cragnolin, executive director of RiverLink.
With her husband, Dykeman wrote “Neither Black nor White” in 1957, a book on integration that won the Sidney Hillman Award as the best book of the year on world peace, race relations or civil liberties.
Another of her books was a biography of birth control pioneer Edna Rankin McKinnon. She also wrote columns for the Knoxville News-Sentinel and articles for numerous national publications, including the New York Times.
The Times chose a commentary she and her husband co-authored as one of the 100 best it had published during its first 100 years.
A pioneering voice in Appalachian fiction
Three novels, “The Tall Woman,” “The Far Family,” and “Return the Innocent Earth,” were her own favorites among her books.
In a tribute to Dykeman when she received the North Caroliniana Award in 2001, Henderson County native Robert Morgan said that when he read Dykeman’s fiction, “I saw that the inevitable focus of fiction about the region was the land and the seasons, and the strong women who struggled on the land to raise children and feed large families, to keep their families together over the generations as decent and responsible people. There could be no better model for a young writer than Wilma Dykeman’s ‘The Tall Woman.’”
Dykeman, who majored in speech at Northwestern University, was also an active and entertaining speaker, once estimating that she gave 50 to 75 lectures a year.
Along the way, she reared two sons, with each of whom she also co-authored books.
A remarkable love story
She was, as admirers have said of her, a “force” and an “original.”
She was also half of a remarkable love story. After her husband died in 1977, she wrote, “I pity those who will never know such a long and good togetherness. It was not easily achieved. Courage, effort, generosity, humor, determination went into those years. The result was love.”
Dykeman once wrote an essay in the form of a letter to an “Old Friend” - the elm tree that stood at the corner of her house.
It concludes, “…If that limb should break and fall, as you will someday, you have shared to the fullest in life, sheltering, nurturing, inspiring creatures great and small. A blessing you have been. Blessings to you.”
It is a most fitting benediction for the author herself.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com).
Museum to honor Dykeman and local writers
Author: Duay O'Neil
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
NEWPORT---The late Wilma Dykeman, nationally known author of such books as The Tall Woman and Return the Innocent Earth, will be the focus of Newport/Cocke County Museum's newest exhibit set to open this Sunday, May 18, at Newport/Cocke County Community Center at 2 p.m.
As a charter member of William Cocke Chapter DAR, Dykeman, an Asheville native, led the effort to organize the museum in the 1970s as a Bicentennial project.
As a special tribute to Dykeman's literary work, all local writers are invited to be the museum's special guests at the opening ceremonies.
"We know that many local people have penned works of their own, ranging from personal memoirs to poetry to family genealogies," said museum co-chair Jackie Garbarino. "These works are truly special and we urge all of you to be our guests Sunday and to bring copies of your works to sell and autograph. Please be at the center by 1:45."
The museum, now in its 31st year, features permanent exhibits of a pioneer kitchen and bedroom and a Victorian parlor, as well as sections devoted to the lives of Newport native and Tennessee Governor Ben W. Hooper, Del Rio native and Metropolitan Opera star Grace Moore, and Cosby native and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Charles McGaha.
"Wilma's enthusiasm and leadership were largely responsible for the museum's successful organization and opening," recalled Garbarino on Wednesday as she examined Dykeman memorabilia loaned by the writer's two sons, Jim and Dykeman Stokely, for the exhibit.
"She was such a dynamic person, known for her flamboyant hats and scarves, and we are happy to have several of those as part of our exhibit," said Garbarino.
Also on display will be the chaise lounge, where Dykeman did much of her writing, family photographs and clippings, and Stokely memorabilia.
Dykeman, who died in 2006 at age 86, married Cocke County native James R. Stokely. The couple co-authored several books and countless magazine and newspaper articles together. In addition, Dykeman penned several books herself and also became known as a lecturer and teacher.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 26 Dec 2006.
Appalachian writer Dykeman dies Former state historian and acclaimed novelist
By: DAVID POPIEL
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
(Editor's note: Information for this story was compiled from Plain Talk files, the Associated Press reports, and various media sources, including "Citizens of the Century." Highly-acclaimed Appalachian writer and speaker Wilma Dykeman Stokely died last Friday in Asheville, North Carolina. She was 86 and had been in declining health for many months. During October she was expected to be in Newport for the state unveiling of the Stokely Brothers farm state historical marker but had fallen and was unable to attend. She fractured a hip and suffered a staph infection after hip replacement surgery in recent weeks and then went into hospice care about two weeks ago, according to long-time friend Karen Cragnolin, who is executive director of RiverLink. Her writing career spanned more than 50 years during which time she presented truthful portraits of mountain people in 18 novels and nonfiction books and numerous articles. Born in a valley near Asheville in the early 1920s, she was the daughter of Willard J. and Bonnie (Cole) Dykeman and named after her father but also carrying her mother's name, too. She was introduced to her future husband, James R. Stokely, in 1940 by Mabel Wolfe, sister to author Thomas Wolfe and they were married in October of that year. Dykeman had just graduated from college and planned to live in New York before meeting Stokely in Asheville. She was a prolific writer during the 1940s and 1950s mostly doing short stories and magazine/newspaper articles, while she and James lived on an apple orchard-land he bought from his uncle, Governor Ben W. Hooper. They also had an orchard in Asheville at the same time. Her husband, constant companion, and writing collaborator, preceded her in death in 1977-when he suffered a heart attack at their Clifton Heights home. But, by that time, the couple had co-authored three books: their first,"Neither Black Nor White," became a prize winner and was published in 1957; Their "Seeds of Southern Change" was published in 1962 and reprinted in 1976; "The Border States," a Time-Life book was published in 1968. The young Wilma Dykeman was drawn to the Newport poet who was the son of one of the founding brothers of Stokely Brothers canning company-later the national company, Stokely Van Camp. He was an authority on Thomas Wolfe, who was a personal friend after meeting him at Princeton. She met Wolfe in 1937, a year before he died. At the time, Dykeman was a reporter for Biltmore Junior College, now the University of North Carolina at Asheville. James Stokely also was a personal friend of the great American poets, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. Weeks before his death they were doing what both enjoyed, lecturing on Appalachian literature at Berea College. Wilma and James Stokely traveled throughout the world and visited most state in the US lecturing and participating in workshops. The people they met reads like a Who's Who of the world and included the Dali Lama, Bishop Tutu, and Alex Haley. Word of her death before Christmas Eve brought many tributes to her, including comment by best-selling author Sharyn McCrumb: "She was trying to present a realistic view-'Here is who we are and why we are this way.'" Dykeman had often said that she spent her early years studying the stories, mannerisms, dialect of mountain people so that she could tell their stories and present Appalachia culture in an authentic voice. She spent many years with her husband and partner in their home overlooking the Pigeon River in Newport where they raised two sons: Jim "Rory" Stokely III, and Dykeman Stokely. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, Chicago, majoring in speech, with minors in English and history, and held honorary doctoral degrees from several colleges and was a professor in the English Dept. of the University of Tenn. at Knoxville. She served as Visiting Goode Professor of Appalachian Studies at Berea College in 1992. Her first novel, "The Tall Woman," 1962, was so popular that it remained in print for more than 30 years. Her first book, and one considered to be one of her most important works, "The French Broad," was published in 1955 by Rinehart as part of the Rivers of America series. "Neither Black Nor White"-a study of the contemporary South, won the Hillman Award in 1957 as the best US book on world peace, race relations, and civil liberties. In 1973, she published "Return the Innocent Earth"-her third novel and acclaimed at the time as her best. The book portrayed the Clayburns, a poor but enterprising family that goes into the canning business at the turn of the century-1900 and operates in a small mountain town called Churchill. In 1975, she presented, "Too Many People, Too Little Love"-a biography of Edna Rankin McKinnon, a pioneer in family planning from 1930s to 1960s. By the early 1970s, she also had written "The Far Family," "Prophet of Plenty: The First 90 Years of W.D. Weatherford," and "Look to This Day." It was not uncommon for her to give 70 to more than 100 lectures a year, while continuing to write articles, such as her popular Knoxville News-Sentinel and Newport Plain Talk weekly columns. Her articles also appeared in the New York Times magazine, US News & World Report, Harper's, and Reader's Digest. Other works and contributions included "A Bicentennial History" for the nation's 200th birthday in 1976 and "Explorations," (1984, published by Wakestone Books, founded by her son, "Dyke" Stokely, "Tennessee," and "Appalachian Mountains." This photographic presentation by Clyde H. Smith was accompanied by text written by Stokely and her son, Dykeman Stokely in 1980. She always found time for community service and gained recognition for this, such as in 1998, when then Mayor Roland Dykes proclaimed Sept. 10 as "Wilma Dykeman Day." In 1971, she was named to the State Democratic committee of which Tipper Gore was coordinator, to help register young women between 18 and 24 to vote. In 1974, she was selected to write the state history, "Tennessee: A Bicentennial History," and the announcement of her selection was made by Senators Howard Baker and Bill Brock III. Two years later, she was interviewed by a writer for Humanities magazine who stated that "Wilma Dykeman knows Tennessee better than most people know their own families." She admitted that she first considered refusing the offer to write the Tennessee portrait for the national series but "was afraid someone else would not write it with the knowledge and love for it that I have." Then Governor Lamar Alexander, current US senator, appointed Stokely as Tennessee Historian in 1981 for a four-year term. He said,"Wilma Dykeman is my favorite contemporary Tennessee historian because she so obviously cares so much about the people whose lives she has recorded." In 1992, she received the Distinguished Tennessee Writer Award in Oak Ridge for her outstanding literary contributions. In 1994, she and Dr. Fred M. Valentine Jr. received the Pride of Tennessee Award from Governor Ned Ray McWhorter-because of their commitment to community, education, and advancement of the humanities. McWhorter said, "She has managed to capture and truthfully portray the people, places, and events that make East Tenn. and Appalachia a unique place in world culture." She earned a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Trophy. She was also honored as a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chicago Friends of American Writers, and Tennessee Conservation Writer of the year. Her recognitions also include the Hillman Award, and the North Carolina Gold Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Letters, and the Governor's Award in Humanities, 1992. She was a president of Clifton Club, first woman ever to be elected to the Berea College Board of Trustees, member of the State Advisory Board for the Endowment for the Tennessee Performing Arts, member of the Smoky Mountain Park Natural History Association, and member of First Baptist Church of Newport. She was chosen for inclusion in the 1996 book, "A Bicentennial Tribute to Tennessee Women: 1796-1996." Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced Wednesday afternoon by Morris Funeral Home, in Asheville.
- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 28 Dec 2006.
STOKELY, WILMA DYKEMAN - 86 of Asheville, NC and Newport, TN, died Friday, December 22, 2006 at John F. Keever Hospice Solace Center in Asheville. Wilma is survived by: her sons, Dykeman Cole Stokely of Newport, TN and James Rorex Stokely and his wife Anne Callison Stokely and two grandchildren, Elizabeth Dykeman Stokely and William Callison Stokely, all of Boston, MA. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am Friday, December 29 at First Baptist Church in Newport, TN. with Rev. Richard Lloyd and Rev. John Nelson officiating. The body will lie in repose in the church one hour prior to the church service. Burial will be at Beaver Dam Baptist Church Cemetery at 3:30 pm in Asheville following the funeral service. Memorials may be made to: Memory Care or the Assisted Living Programs at Givens Estates, 2360 Sweeten Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 28803, or CarePartners Mountain Area Hospice, PO Box 25338, Asheville NC 28813. Morris Funeral Home, 304 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville, NC is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be sent through our website at: www.morrisfamilyfuneralhome.com.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 31 Dec 2006.
NEWPORT- With music ranging from the symphonies of Beethoven to Southern gospel hymns played on the banjo and guitar, family and friends gathered Friday morning in the sanctuary of Newport's First Baptist Church to honor the memory of noted author, lecturer, educator, civil rights activist, women's leader, and conservationist, Wilma Dykeman Stokely. During the course of the service, Dykeman was remembered as a "real 'tall' woman," "a woman who walked among the people of the mountains," and a woman who said, "God has given me a talent. I thank Him for it. I'll use it." Her love of the earth and especially of the Appalachian region was evident in her simple wooden coffin topped with a spray of native hemlock, laurel, and rhododendron. Stokely, who died Friday, Dec. 22, at 86, after a period of declining health, authored numerous fiction and non-fiction books during a career spanning 60 years. Writing under her maiden name, Wilma Dykeman, she rose to national prominence in the 1950s with the publication of "The French Broad." Other non-fiction works which also brought her accolades were "The Tall Woman," "The Far Family," and "Return the Innocent Earth." The eclectic composition of Friday morning's service highlighted the many facets of Dykeman's life. Representatives from numerous government departments, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and businesses joined her immediate family, neighbors, and friends for the service. Heading the list of dignitaries was U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. While serving as Tennessee governor in the early 1980s, Alexander appointed Dykeman as Tennessee's state historian, a position she embraced with excitement and dedication for several years. Also present were several representatives from Berea College, headed by Judge Wilson, secretary of the college's Board of Trustees, who traveled from his Versailles, Ky., home for the occasion. Wilson noted, "I was a student at Berea when she became the first woman named to the board in 1969. She was a loyal and dedicated member until her retirement in 1999." Following a prelude of selections by Beethoven and the family's processional, Dr. Rich Lloyd, First Baptist Church pastor, led the Call to Worship, noting, "In this Christmas season, we celebrate the promise of the Christ Child. We now celebrate the Christ Child's coming for Wilma Dykeman, whose life has influenced her community, state and country." Lloyd presented the Old Testament Lesson, taken from Job 38:16-18 and Job 39:1-4. David Holt, guitarist, accompanied himself as he sang "Amazing Grace." Dykeman's cousin, Dr. Jim Cole Overholt, read selections of Dykeman's works, "The French Broad" and "Return the Innocent Earth." From "The French Broad," Overholt's selections included the passage, "The French Broad country is a river of streams. The river belongs to everyone. It is the possession of no one." Dykeman's love of rivers, particularly the French Broad, and her devotion to conservation efforts to return rivers to their pristine beginnings are legendary, and it was indeed appropriate that her last journey to and from Newport Friday followed the route from Asheville through Hot Springs and Del Rio into Newport, passing along the river she loved so deeply. From "Return the Innocent Earth," Overholt read a passage from the Claiborne family's discussion of a new machine, a pumpkin cutter, which would improve the family's growing fortunes. In the passage, Dan, the inventor brother, does not initially grasp the fact that the new machine will result in six employees being laid off. Overholt, who said the passage was among his favorites, pointed out, "Wilma was so concerned with the reality of what a machine would do." Congregational singing of old-time favorites, "This Little Light of Mine" and "I'll Fly Away," was led by Holt and Laura Boosinger, who played the banjo. In leading "This Little Light of Mine," Holt observed, "This song exemplifies Wilma. If anyone let her light shine, it was she." Methodist minister, the Rev. John Nelson of Asheville, began his remarks by reading the New Testament Lesson, John 14:8-11, recalling it as one of Dykeman's favorite Biblical passages. In delivering his eulogy, Nelson began by saying, "I plan to speak from the mind and heart. "We would be remiss if we did not mention Wilma's parents, Will and Bonnie Dykeman," said Nelson, "and their Asheville home where Wilma spent her first 20 years. "It was here," Nelson continued, "that Wilma was molded and directed. Her parents' teachings brought her close to the land and developed a love of the earth she carried with her always. In her later years, she stood on the same porch and directed each cut and trim of the rhododendron and laurel which surrounded her home." As a teenager, Dykeman once entertained dreams of "Broadway stardom," said Nelson. "Her family read together in that simple place, and it was here that she became close to God and Nature." Following Dykeman's graduation from Asheville Biltmore College, Dykeman left Asheville for Northwestern University, where she earned her degree in Speech. "Dreams sometimes get misdirected," stated Nelson, in reference to Dykeman's initial introduction to James R. Stokely Jr., a Newport native. "From this meeting, arranged by members of Asheville writer Thomas Wolfe's family, came a very special relationship." With Dykeman's marriage to Stokely and subsequent move to Tennessee, she became a "Newport, Tennessee citizen by adoption, but she remained an Asheville, North Carolina resident by birth," Nelson said. During the 1960s, as the South roiled in the tumultuous times of the Civil Rights movement, Stokely and Dykeman worked as stringers for The New York Times, and traveled to Montgomery, Ala., several times. "She later told of being followed by a sheriff's deputy wherever they went," recalled Nelson. "When I asked her, 'Were you afraid?', she replied, 'No. There are things you have to do. They must be done, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.'" According to Nelson, Dykeman considered her two sons, Dykeman and Jim, her "greatest accomplishments." "Something many of you probably don't realize," continued Nelson, "is the fact that while Wilma walked with the rich and powerful, she was, at heart, a working woman who had to pay the bills. "Another thing about Wilma was her devotion to her audiences," added Nelson. "Whether she was speaking to a group of 20 at a branch of the Asheville Public Library or to an auditorium of 1,000 people, she put the same amount of thought and effort into her remarks, regardless of the size of the group. "She had a remarkable rapport with everyone," said Nelson. "Once a group of men were working on her property, and one fellow told her about his daughter, who had just written a report on The French Broad. Wilma returned to the house, autographed three of her books, and sent them to the daughter. "She was a true 'tall woman,'" said Nelson. "Through the years, she had honed her abilities as a gentle diplomat, but at times, she could cast aside that persona. "Once, when North Carolina road workers infringed on her property and then blew off her complaints, she changed into a black bear of the Smokies, marched into her home, and called state road officials in Raleigh. Soon some of these officials arrived to replant her trees." Large, flamboyant hats were a Dykeman trademark, and, in reference to this, Nelson laughed, "I'm sure that when Wilma arrived in Heaven, the Heavenly Hosts and Angels welcomed her wearing great, multi-colored hats." Following the service in Newport, Dykeman's body was returned to Asheville for interment in Beaverdam Baptist Church Cemetery later in the day.
- [S134] Find a Grave, (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=), 17955335.