Julia Carmen Nazario Wilkerson

Wilkerson Enlarge photo


Ignacio resident Julia Carmen Nazario Wilkerson died Friday, July 20, 2012, at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango. She was 83.

Mrs. Wilkerson was born to Andres Almodovar and Susana Collado Nazario on March 7, 1929, in Melrose, Mass., where she grew up. Her family moved to Lubbock, Texas, when she was 18, where she met and married John Morris Wilkerson in 1949.

As they raised their three children, the Wilkersons made numerous regular trips to Durango for camping, fishing, horseback riding and hiking. In 1974, the couple moved to Durango, and Mr. Wilkerson built their dream house.

The Wilkersons divorced in 1979, after 29 years of marriage.

Mrs. Wilkerson became interested in tole painting, going on to own Julia’s Art Shop in Bayfield, where she offered classes as well as art supplies. She began painting in oils and acrylics, later having a studio on her property where she held classes.

In 1979, she married Dayton Kirkham in Durango. The couple divorced 15 years later.

Most recently, her family said, she will be remembered for working at La Plata Gifts at the Durango-La Plata County Airport.

“She was high energy, welcoming and very funny,” her daughter Johnnye Hooper said. “She was quite a character and a big flirt. She enjoyed all the men, whether they worked at the airport or were just passing through.”

Mrs. Wilkerson was an active member of Zion Baptist Church in Ignacio.

“She was always ready to pray with someone who was flying out because of a death or surgery,” Mrs. Hooper said.

Her family said she learned to dance with John “Bud” Sposato, who remained her good friend and dance partner until her death.

Mrs. Wilkerson is survived by her daughters Johnnye Hooper and Donna Nazario, both of Durango; son, Joe Wilkerson, of Lewisville, Texas; brother, Paul Nazario of Santa Maria, Calif.; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Thursday, July 26, 2012, at Pine River Valley Baptist Church in Ignacio.