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Mary Swigart Wilkerson

May 31, 1931 - May 27, 2021

Mary Alice Swigart Wilkerson was born on May 31,1931, shortly before her twin, Ann Leslie, to John Farman and Anna Swigart. Sister Dorothy joined them in 1934 and the girls spent an idyllic  childhood  in Wolf Creek and later in Salem, Oregon.
Mary's musical  talent was obvious early on and she fell in love with the French horn, though she could play  any instrument she came across.  She graduated from the University of Oregon and became a music teacher in North Bend, Oregon. There she met a young police officer, John Wilkerson, and they married  on January 18, 1958. Daughter  Betsy arrived late that year, followed by Scott  in 1959 and Joan in 1961.
The  family  moved to Salem in 1961 and bought a rambling old Victorian home. Mary became a busy stay at home mom for several years. The house was filled with children and pets of all kinds- dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, ducklings and the occasional possum. She later returned  to work for the Oregon Legislative Counsel's office. She rose to become manager and helped many Legislative bills become law.
Mary's passion for music was life long and she played for many years in the Salem Concert Band and the annual Tuba Christmas. She also forced all three children to take piano lessons and learn at least one other instrument, for which we were eventually grateful.
Her home was another strong passion. She almost single-handedly restored that big old house to an amazingly  beautiful  home that is on the National Register. The house and the gorgeous garden she created brought pleasure to many people  through annual tours.
Mom was a wonderful friend to many. The annual moms and kids only camping trips to Mount Rainier were legendary and the moms continued  with annual vacations long after the kids were grown. The family also camped  often at family property along  the Allegany River where  Mom especially enjoyed the swimming hole.
After retirement, she and John traveled all over the world and took many train trips around the US.
Mom passed along her love of music  to her children, along with a love of antiques, finding bargains and a slight tendency  towards  hoarding. Another of her greatest joys was  reading books, which she shared with the whole family. She was a wonderful grandmother to 8 and great grandmother to 2, all of whom have special memories of the fun times they shared with her. She loved deeply and well and instilled in her family  the importance of working  hard, being kind and helping others.
Mary passed away peacefully on May 27, 2021. She was preceded in death by her parents and twin sister. She is survived  by her beloved  husband of 63 years, John; sister Dorothy (Stan) Kerzel; daughter Betsy  (Charlie), son Scott  (Stacy), daughter Joan (Chris), grandchildren, Ryan (Vanessa), Corey (Sarah)  Wilkerson and Sara (Joe) Jacobus; Mary and Ben Steiner; Annie, Bethany  and Jack Brundage; great grandchildren Samantha and Timothy Wilkerson and several nieces  and nephews.
The family would like to thank April Primley, as well the staff at Intuitive Residential Care, for the loving care they gave Mom in her final years.
At Mom's request, there will be no services. She would love any donations in her memory to go to The Humane Society. 

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Guest Book Entries

I feel so honored to have met her, and know we all will feel her loss for many years to come. My love and prayers to you and yours.

The majority of my childhood memories involve Mrs. Wilkerson and the whole Wilkerson family.  From being our Bluebird leader to our Campfire girl leader, learning how to play the clarinet, taking us to the library, numerous birthday dinners and slumber parties, camping, music camp, watching you play in the orchestra, picking me up endless amounts of times in the old green station wagon, getting my first kitten from Mama cat, sewing matching outfits for us, taking me to church and choir practice and all the rest.  Thank you for it all, but please forgive me for having to endure my playing “Saturday in the Park” OVER and OVER again on the piano.  You were a saint.

I wish I had known Mary but feel the greatness of who she is living in her daughters whom I have the pleasure to know. My deepest sympathy for your loss. I know her passing will leave a void hard to fill. Much love and prayers of comfort for your family.


I did not personally know Mary, however her daughter Joan is my life time friend. I am sending love and blessings to Joan and her family as they go through the loss of their amazing mom and grandmother. Joan always shared wonderful stories of her mother with all of her friends. During Covid Joan would send us pictures of Mother Mary, with bows on her head, a big smile on her face, a furry pup wrapped in her arms, no matter what was going on. Joan and Mary hung in there together, making the rest of us smile. Sending love and hugs to all of the family as Mary finds peace and the family learns to live together with Mary watching them from Heaven. Love Joanne Mabbott