Sibyl McDougald Wilkinson

Sibyl McDougald Wilkinson was born in Vernon Parish, La. on September 1, 1923 and died in Huntsville, Alabama June 28, at the age of 95. Funeral services were held in the historic sanctuary of Huntsville First United Methodist Church at noon on Monday, July 1. Burial was in Maple Hill Cemetery. Sibyl grew up in Savannah and Claxton. As a college student she met her future husband, James Chason Wilkinson. After they married, and after his service in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines during World War II returning as a disabled veteran, they lived in Atlanta, Claxton, and for many years in Florida before retiring and calling Huntsville, Ala. home. During the 45 years Sibyl has lived in Huntsville, she has been active in civic, community and church activities. She has received several prominent awards: •The Clan MacDougall Award for her dedication to the Clan MacDougall Society and Scottish heritage. •The Harriett B. “Happy” Smith Distinguished Ladies’ Award for outstanding achievement and meritorious service for and in behalf of the 2d Marine Division Association. She was active in the Semper Fi Community and the Wounded Warrior Program. •The Somerled Award recognizing her as an outstanding member of the 2013 Scottish Games at Grandfather Mountain and honoring her civic work. •The Distinguished Service Award presented by the commanding general of the 2d Marine division, the only woman and civilian to ever receive this award. •The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of America. •The 2017 Honor our Elders Award from the Rosetta James Foundation. •The 2016 DAR Medal of Honor, which is the most prestigious honor awarded by the DAR and recognizes individuals who have shown extraordinary qualities of leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism. Sibyl was also committed to working for the First United Methodist Church, where she has served as a past trustee and on the kitchen committee, administrative board, the historical committee and the special ministries committee. On the 40th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, she was invited as a guest of the South Korean government in Seoul, where she received an individual audience with Senior Pastor Sundo Kim, who presented her with the Key to the Kwanglim Methodist Church, which was then the largest Methodist church in the world. At the age of 92, she was liaison for the National Convention of the Second Marine Division Association Annual Meeting in Huntsville, Ala. in September of 2015. In Claxton, she was the civil defense director during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She was comptroller of the Ramada Inn in Cocoa Beach, Fla. during the Apollo years of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. In 1975 and 1976 in Huntsville, she and her husband sponsored two Vietnamese refugees after the Vietnam War ended in the 1970’s. They lived in the Wilkinson home for nearly a year and became like family. She has leadership abilities all her life, starting in high school where she was a cheerleader, sports reporter for her high school paper, and active in church and school organizations. She was chairman of the annual Claxton High class of 1941 reunions for many years until 2011, the 70th reunion when the class dissolved and gave the remaining funds for a scholarship for a CHS nursing student to attend Georgian Southern. She was a charter and founding member and past vice-chairman of Historic Huntsville Foundation; charter member and past president of Gothic Guild through which she taught generations of young women etiquette and social graces and helped raise funds benefitting the community. She has been President of the Tennessee Valley Scottish Society; two-term Chairman of the Burritt Museum Advisory Board; past vice president of Early Works Society, and a member of Trustee of the Huntsville First United Methodist Church; a longtime member of the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, the Huntsville Literary Society, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, and the Brandon-Wilbourn Chapter of the Marine Corps League. Her unique ability to cheer on and encourage all those around her has been a benefit to all who know her. In 2019, at the age of 95, she was inducted into the Twickenham Town Chapter of the American Daughters of the Revolution (DAR). She also continued to work daily in the family’s real estate business and maintained her civic and church activities until three weeks before her death. Sibyl was preceded in death by her husband, James Chason Wilkinson; her father, John Wooten McDougald; her mother and step-father, Idelle McCranie Tillman and Russell Dewey Tillman; her sister and brother-in-law, Lenora Tillman Grumbles and George Robert Grumbles, Sr. She is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Nancy Wilkinson Van Valkenburgh and Richard P. Van Valkenburgh, Jr. and Sarah Wilkinson Hereford and Tom Douglas Hereford; three granddaughters, Victoria Lee Van Valkenburgh, Julie Van Valkenburgh Lockwood (Robert), Sarah Lauren Van Valkenburgh Kattos (Andy); one grandson, James Wilkinson Hereford (Chelsey); three great-grandsons, William Norris, Carter Lockwood, Richard Lockwood; three great-granddaughters, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Chason Norris, Juliana Kattos and Margaret Kattos; nieces and nephew, Lisa Grumbles Ordway (Fred), Lea Grumbles Steinberger (Rick) and Robert Grumbles (Sarah); numerous beloved family members and friends including cousin, Zelma Reid of Kemah and Beaumont, Texas who assisted in her final caregiving. Memorials may be made to Huntsville First United Methodist Church Great Heritage Great Future Fund, 120 Greene Street, Huntsville, Ala. 35801; the Semper Fi Community Task Force for Heroes Week, P. O. Box 1061, Madison, Ala. 35758; or a charity of your choice.