Monte Vista resident Margaret Mary Wilkinson, 85, passed away on December 22, 2013 at the Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte. She was born on March 26, 1928 to Albert McCumber and DeLoras McCory. Her mother died after childbirth due to complications. She was raised by her motherís sister, Beatrice McCumber, who married Margaretís father, Albert. Albert and Beatrice had two sons, Howard and David.
When Margaret was old enough to think about marriage, she prayed for a man she could marry and work with side by side as partners in a business and in life. She found that man and married Charles Ernest Wilkinson. Side by side with Ernie her dreams came true. They first opened up Ernestís Taxidermy within the city limits of Monte Vista. Later they purchased some land three miles west of Monte Vista and built the combined house and shop where they would happily spend the rest of their lives. The business had many facets through the years. Taxidermy has always been part of it. When they first opened up the shop they sold souvenirs for tourists. Later when souvenirs became widely common at every stop along the road, Margaret switched gears and starting selling craft supplies. About this time they renamed the business Ernestís Taxidermy and Crafts. At one point in Margaretís life she developed cancer. Because of the fear of leaving huge medical bills that the family could not afford, she chose to battle her disease with herbs. After successfully beating the cancer she started to sell herbs as another part of the business. Part of the taxidermy included sending customerís hides to a tannery to be turned into leather. Soon customers starting asking for their leather to be made into clothing like coats, chaps, entire mountain man outfits, etc. Hence Margaret started making custom leather clothing and she was amazing at it. Many very satisfied customers have stated that they never had anything fit them as well as the items that Margaret measured and custom built for them. As if that were not enough, they started taking out back pack trips in the summer and snow cave trips in the winter in order to share the beautiful Colorado outdoors with others. This part of the business included several partnerships with other outfitters in the valley. These trips also expanded into teaching outdoor survival skills and primitive skill camps to teach people how to live off the land. They did archery, search and rescue, snowmobile trips, etc. They even had unusual pets. We are talking pets like mountain lions, bears, badgers, coyotes, wolfs, fox, etc. These pets got them involved in photography, which allowed them to rub shoulders with people like John Denver, Walt Disney, and many others. Are you starting to get the picture? Even all this is just a summary and does not cover all the things that Margaret and Ernest did together. Margaret truly had her wish of wanting to work side by side with her companion in business. Some of the business ventures were mostly hers and some of them were a mixture of Ernest and her, but none of them would have succeeded without her.
Margaret was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and held many callings in the church. Because she had given birth to four boys, one of her callings was Den Mother in the cub scouts organization. She found great joy in helping her sons and other young boys learn and grow. Years later Margaret was asked to be the Stake Young Womenís Camp Leader. She expressed, ďThat is a very scary calling for me, I donít know anything about girls.Ē Nevertheless she accepted the calling and was very much loved by the girls she served. One of her last calling in the church was the Ward Librarian where she joyfully served for over 30 years.
Family was very important to Margaret, she could often be found helping or encouraging her boys with any interest they chose to participate in. Whether it was woodworking, rock climbing, stained glass work, or music it did not matter, she just wanted her boys to be happy and she was right there supporting them in anything they chose to do.
Margaret had a huge heart and a bigger smile. Her smile would light up a room. Even if you happened to sneak up on her and find her focused and concentrating on something, her eyes were still twinkling and smiling for her, at least until she noticed you were there and then her mouth would immediately join in and light up the room. She will be truly missed by those who knew her.
She is survived by her husband, Ernest; her sons Jim (Mel), Jerold (Kelly), Larry (Amy) and Jeff (Janice); her grandchildren Brandon, Alissa, Kylie, Eric, Anjuli, and Stephen; her great grandchildren, Ryan and Ethan; numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
Margaret was preceded in death by her father, Albert McCumber; her birth mother, DeLoras McCumber; the mother that raised her, Beatrice McCumber; and her brothers, David and Howard McCumber.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, December 30, 2013 at the Rio Grande Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Monte Vista. A visitation/viewing will be held at the church from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Monday morning. Burial will follow services in the Monte Vista Cemetery.
Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements. To leave condolences for the family or to sign an electronic guest book please visit www.rogersfunerals.com