A Tribute to Joanne Wilke

A Tribute to Joanne Wilke

facebook twitter email Print This
Bilverstone, Bill

July 22, 1957 - November 26, 2010

I don’t know where she found the time. She swam, skied, mountain biked, hiked, backpacked, and scoured Montana cafés in search of pie. She wrote an award-winning book, was working on a second, and her freelance articles and poetry appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Outside Bozeman, High Country News, Big Sky Journal, and various book anthologies. And that was in her spare time. She spent a good part of her life working in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at MSU, raising two great kids, and loving a boyfriend who believes she was the frosting on his life.

Good stuff all, but a list of accomplishments overlooks the little things. Like walking her dog, Ricky, first thing every morning. And making you believe her Saab had four-wheel drive. Except for the time she tore off her exhaust system crashing over a cattle guard. And how she attacked every gnarly trail with that cheapo mountain bike that didn’t have a single shock. And the way she wore mud and bruises like lipstick and mascara. And how she thought the skiing was "lovely" no matter how horrible the conditions. And (God save our eyes) that pair of olive-drab shorts so hideous they became known as the "Marine Corps shorts." And then there was her laugh. Like she’d machine-gunned you with joy.

You wouldn’t think cancer could gain a foothold in a woman like that. Or that the world could spare a woman like that. I know that the kids and I can’t. Then again, once she’d had her beamish effect on this world, maybe she was needed elsewhere. The only thing metaphysical I’m willing to bet on is that wherever she’s gone, Joanne Wilke will make it a better place. If she’s dust, it’s some damn fine dust. The kind that produces sunflowers and daffodils.

Appears in 
©2019 Outside Media Group, LLC
Powered by BitForge