WATERLOO, Iowa—Hilda Mae Wilhite, former pastor’s wife and member of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Waterloo, died on April 2, 2012, at age 90.
Hilda was born in Shamokin, Pa., and came to Christ as a young lady through the ministry of an evangelical church. She began her ministry as a pastor’s wife in 1947 and continued ministering to people, especially those in the medical center of Friendship Village, Waterloo, Iowa, until the first of this year when her health failed.
She met her husband, Ken, while a student at Moody Bible Institute, and they were married Sept. 16, 1944. Having learned about a Baptist school, they moved to Johnson City, N.Y., to attend Baptist Bible Seminary. While Hilda was delivering their first child, Ken sat in the waiting room writing his valedictorian speech he was to deliver the next day. As Ken told the story, about 6 a.m. a hospital orderly and fellow student walked out of the hospital and congratulated him on his son—the first news he had received about the birth. That week they returned to Chicago, where Ken finished the course he had started at Moody.
In 1947 they moved back east with their two sons to become the first full-time pastor and wife of Forest Lake Baptist Church, near Montrose, Pa. The church was about a century old at the time, but had always had a circuit riding preacher, or a pastor who shared a pulpit across the mountain at Birchardville. In 1956, with their quiver full, Ken accepted the offer to become the first pastor of the Indianola Regular Baptist Church, Indianola, Iowa. Dr. Ken Elgena, then pastor of Grandview Park Baptist in Des Moines, had held a Bible study in Indianola, which led to the formation of the new church.
The Wilhites also served at First Baptist Church, Bremen, Ind.; Holmes Baptist Church, Holmes, Iowa; and First Baptist Church, Reinbeck, Iowa. Then for 16 years Ken served as chaplain at Friendship Village in Waterloo, Iowa. Following one year as chaplain emeritus, he went to be with Christ on Feb. 17, 2007. Five of their children serve in full-time local church or Christian education ministries.
Hilda is survived by three sons, Tom, Tim, and Larry; four daughters, Jeanne Kintner, Judy Schneider, Susan Bottorff, and Sally Chamblee; 17 grandchildren; and 21 great grandchildren.