RANTOUL, ILL. - Wyatt "Waddell" Gilkie, 71, died July 4, 2008, in Routoul. He was born Nov. 19, 1937, in Macon, Miss., the first of eight children born to Wyatt and Maggie Buck Gilkey.
The family moved to St. Louis, Mo. and then on to Detroit, Mich., where Mr. Gilkie attended middle and high school, singing harmonies in "doowop" street corner groups with his younger brother.
Eager to serve his country he joined the Air Force on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 1953. He spent one year in Tuley, Greenland during his tour. He retired from the Air Force in 1974 after serving more than 20 years.
Mr. Gilkie completed his bachelor's degree at Evergreen College, in Vancouver.
He eventually moved to Long Beach where he met and married Pearl Yoder and took on the role of stepfather to her three teenage children, Ted Raaymakers, Cheryl Teal and Margaret Raaymakers.
Within two years, he was appointed deputy police chief of Long Beach. He later transitioned his career into juvenile corrections for the state of Washington in Naselle and worked at Naselle Youth Camp for many years. He was a volunteer forest firefighter in Washington until his health would no longer permit. He was a member of the VFW, the American Legion, the Masons and Elks.
He had a passion for fishing, and he used every opportunity to engage in his favorite pastime with his children and grandchildren. He loved being near the water and he loved the state of Washington, where he remained until 2003 when his wife Pearl passed away. A widower and in ill health, he moved to Illinois to be close to his youngest daughter.
Survivors include his children, Connie Gilkie of California, Vileta and Les Austin of Illinois and Delano Gilkey of Arizona; his stepchildren, Ted and Linda Raaymakers of Long Beach, Cheryl and Scott Teal of Alaska and Margaret Raaymakers of Washington; 16 grandchildren: 12 great-grandchildren; his siblings; Sam Gilkey, Greta Martin-Eneje Gloria Gilkey Black, Carolyn Gilkey, and a host of family. His wife, Pearl, and brothers, Johnny, Donald, Harold and Albert and his parents preceded him in death.
Services were held July 16 in Rantoul, Ill., with burial at Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Ill.