Wilma A. Maguire, 92, formerly of Wood River, passed away peacefully with her son and grandson by her side on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014, at Edwardsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she had been a resident since 2009.
She was born May 16, 1922, in Marissa to William and Lennie (Moran) Crosby.
Wilma grew up during the Great Depression and graduated from Wood River High School in 1940. On Feb. 9, 1944, she married a newly commissioned Naval Aviator. Ernie Maguire, a 1939 Wood River High grad, was the love of her life and he had just received his Navy wings four days earlier. Wilma and her husband immediately moved to Pensacola, Fla., where he completed his aircraft carrier qualifications before leaving for the South Pacific during the second half of World War II. After coming back to Wood River at the end of the war, Ernie built Wilma a house and they started a family. Wilma thought her husband was through with combat flying, but he had stayed in the Naval Reserve. In 1950, he was recalled to active duty with orders for Korea. Wilma closed up the house, packed her young daughter in the car and moved to San Diego, Calif., where Ernie received additional carrier flight training. Wilma bravely said goodbye to her husband for a second time when he again went to war. But she was very proud to be the wife of a Navy pilot and remained in San Diego until Ernie came back safely from Korea. They returned to their home in Wood River and Ernie went back to his job at the Sinclair refinery. He also became a well-known area private pilot and Wilma often flew with him to Indiana to visit her sister and family. But her beloved husband was killed in 1970 in a tragic accident at the Clark refinery and she never remarried.
Perhaps because war had forced her to be the head of the household twice before, Wilma was very independent and raised a teenage son by herself. Her son’s friends were often at her house and they all called her “Wilm.” She never missed one of her son’s athletic events and “Wilm” was often seen cheering for him at Wood River High School basketball and football games. She had a busy social life and was fond of the many friends in her bridge club. Wilma was also a past president of the Wood River Woman’s Club and was active in the organization for many years. She earned a real estate license, worked in the Wood River school system, at the Wood River Township Assessor’s office and finished her working years for the federal government, retiring at age 71 from the Melvin Price Army Support Center. She was also an election judge well into her 80’s. During her retirement, Wilma’s two young grandsons were the apples of her eye. Very few weekends went by without grandma cooking them their favorite meals. Her love for sports was also rekindled through her grandsons and she became one of their most devoted fans, rarely missing a game when they played high school basketball at Civic Memorial and Edwardsville. She was able to drive and live independently until age 85. In 2007, after 60 years of living in the house her husband had built, Wilma moved a few blocks away to the Foxes Grove assisted living facility, where she resided until 2009.
In addition to her parents and husband, her sister, Vera Scheibe; her nephew, Jim Scheibe; beloved in-laws Butch and Gladys Hendricks and Doris Wilson all preceded her in death. Memories of Wilma and her influence as a wonderful mother and grandmother will live on with her son Michael Maguire (Kathy), grandsons Derek Maguire (Sierra), Dustin Maguire and great-grandson Kyren, all of Edwardsville. She is also survived by a daughter, Judith Harlan (Jack), a granddaughter, Jennifer Novak (Roland), and a favorite niece, Jackie Robinson (Max), of Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until time of services at noon Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, at Paynic Funeral Home in East Alton. She will be buried next to her husband Ernie at Woodlawn Cemetery following the services. In lieu of flowers, Wilma would be very pleased for memorial donations to be made in her name to the Bethalto Boys and Girls Club.
Online information and guestbook may be found at www.paynicfh.com.