Last updated 9/2/2019 at 4:05pm
Theresa Lynn Wilkie, 70, of Western Springs passed away Aug. 19, 2019, following a birthday week and family visit in Dallas, Texas. She passed away from natural causes stemming from heart disease complications.
A longtime resident of the Chicago area, Theresa was born in 1949 in Chicago and lived in Flossmoor and Western Springs. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University and studied at Harvard and Oxford Universities.
“Miss Wilkie,” as she was known, was an innovative, award-winning teacher who taught in Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 from August 1988 to June 2014. She was passionate about the literary arts and importance of citizenship. She encouraged students to research and write for the Daughters of the American Revolution annual essay contest for 16 years. She required students to interview Korean and Vietnam era veterans as an integrated language arts and social studies project. Wilkie created and executed community service projects to support Vietnam veterans and paralyzed veterans groups. She also launched “Operation Love Storm,” a project to send Valentines to children at the Camp Allen Elementary School at the Norfolk Naval Base. The program received national attention, including a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America. This type of innovative instruction led to her being awarded Teacher of the Year by Walmart and Disney.
Miss Wilkie did more than provide classroom instruction. She organized schoolwide patriotic events, chaired the VFW annual poppy day sale,and helped school custodians learn English and prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Custodians benefiting from her volunteer tutoring included individuals from Vietnam, Laos, Lithuania and Mexico. When inducted as U.S. citizens, she presented them with an American Flag that flew over Independence Hall to commemorate their achievement.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert Joseph and Mary Lynn Bates Wilkie.
Theresa is survived by her brother, Jack (Margo) Wilkie; her sister, Rosemary (David) Bennett; and her godchildren, Meredith Clay and Jaclynn Wilkie.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 4370 Woodland Ave., Western Springs.
The service will be preceded by a reception hosted by the Wilkie family from 3 to 5 p.m. at the church.
In order to perpetuate her belief in active citizenship, excellence in literary arts and patriotism, the Theresa Wilkie Inspired Instructor Grant has been established through a joint effort of her family and the District 181 Foundation. The grant will recognize innovation in instilling those important values with awards for outstanding teachers and deserving students.
Donations to the grant can be made online at https://www.d181foundation.org or by mail at D181 Foundation, P.O. Box 715, Hinsdale IL 60521: Attn. Theresa Wilkie Grant.