Pauline Connor Wilkes

August 16, 1923 - September 03, 2023


Obituary For Pauline Connor Wilkes

Pauline Connor Wilkes passed away on Sunday, September 3rd, after a brief illness with both her son and daughter at her bedside. Originally from Columbia, Tennessee, she spent the last 15 years at the Cedars of Meadowmont in Chapel Hill, NC.

She was born on August 16, 1923, to Ingram Cecil Connor and Nancy Kelly Connor. Her cherished childhood stemmed from a simple life spent in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, assuming the enviable position of youngest member of an adoring family and an everlasting best friendship with Bee Baby Looney of Drew, Mississippi. That friendship began at age 4 when Bee Baby’s grandparents, residents of Columbia, were looking for a playmate for their granddaughter. Their first set of mud pies led to years of summers spent inseparably in both home towns and an enduring lifelong bond.

After graduating from the Columbia public school system in 1941, she enrolled in the University
of Mississippi. Four months later the United States entered WWII, and the resulting gasoline shortage compelled her to move closer to home. She transferred to Ward-Belmont College in Nashville and completed her studies 2 years later. Upon graduation she devoted significant time to numerous local efforts supporting the troops. Her older brother, Cecil, an Army pursuit pilot, and other close friends had been stationed at Pearl Harbor when it came under attack which made the issue all the more personal to her.

In 1948 she married Dr. James Wallace Wilkes, Jr., also of Columbia. They lived in both New Orleans and Memphis while he completed fellowship training but, unsurprisingly, chose to return to Columbia in 1952 to settle down and raise a family. Upon his death in 2007, she moved to Chapel Hill to be close to her daughter.

She recently enjoyed her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends, many of whom had travelled a significant distance to join in her celebration of life.

She leaves her daughter, Dr. Nancy Wilkes (Cayce Connell) of Chapel Hill, NC; her son, James
W. Wilkes, III, (Kathleen) of Dallas, TX; beloved nieces and nephews, Tom Connor (Jenice),
Helen Connor Curnutte (Steve) and Will Connor (Kim) of Nashville; Helen Hickman (Waymon)
and Kay Curtis of Columbia; Richard Quin (Sherry) of Gleneden, OR; cousins Rosemary King
(David) of Jasper, GA, and Leslie McKinney Bass of Nashville; and devoted American Bobtail, Bo.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was predeceased by her brothers, Cecil and Tom
Kelly Connor.

The family would like to thank the following for the extraordinary love and compassion shown to
her over the years : Geraldine Fleming, Virginia Garden, Caroline Ward, Dr. Lindsay Wilson and
the entire staff of Dubose Health Center.

A memorial service will be held in Tennessee in the future.

For those wishing to honor her spirit, please be kind to animals and know that people remember
the way you made them feel.

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  • September 17, 2023

    People do, indeed, remember the way you make them feel. As a friend to her daughter, Pauline welcomed me into their home, their kindnesses , their generosity and their hearts. I won't forget her attentiveness and the pleasure she experienced while being kind to me (and others). Lois Douglas

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