Obituary: Bea Wilkinson Sept. 16, 1918 – April 10, 2021

Bertha (Metz) Wilkinson died on April 10, 2021, in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

She was known as Nai Nai or Mum to her family and Bea to her friends.  She lived the past 21 years in Los Alamos near, and then with, her son and daughter-in-law, Rich and Mary Pat Kraemer.

But her journey to Los Alamos was far from ordinary. She was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, on a remote farm so rural her birth certificate lists her birthplace as “Sec.3, Tp23, Rge 24, W2nd.” Her mother died when Bea was 12, and as the oldest child she became “mother” to her 4 siblings. She told tales of learning to cook and sew, milk the cows and draw water from the well. Even so, she found time to learn to play the piano and, eventually, the organ. In spite of the odds, she attended nursing school in Regina, Saskatchewan, then married her first husband, William Kraemer and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.  In 1957 the family immigrated to Santa Clara, California, where she continued with her varied and increasingly responsible nursing career while also raising her family.  

Several years after the death of her first husband, she married Gene Wilkinson, a retired school teacher and Air Force Colonel who flew as a B-17 navigator in WWII.   For many years they were able to travel in their camper in the USA and Europe with a camping club.  Since Bea spoke English, French and German she was the unofficial “leader” of the group in their European adventures, acting as interpreter, reading road signs, and ordering from the menus at cafes. 

Strong and independent, yet accepting what life presented her, Bea was known for her strong Catholic faith and her mantra “Count Your Blessings.”  Thanks to her caregiver, Shirley Trujillo, and frequent letters, Facetime and telephone calls from family across the country and masked and distanced visits with family members, Bea remained cheerful and focused on her blessings even during the challenging times presented by COVID-19 and the isolation it caused.

She is survived by her children, Rich Kraemer (Mary Pat) of Los Alamos, NM; Shirley Hiner (John) of Lynden, WA; and Terry Kraemer (Mariann) of Santa Clara, CA;  8  grandchildren (Laura Kraemer, Steven Kraemer, Christina Kraemer, Jessica (Hiner) Weidemann, Stephanie (Hiner) Rasmussen; Scott Kraemer; Molly (Kraemer) Nehls; Kelly (Kraemer) Frische; and 15 great grandchildren.

A memorial Mass is planned for July 1, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Los Alamos which will be celebrated by Father John Carney. Inurnment at a date to be determined will be next to her husband Gene in Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, WA.

The family of Bea Wilkinson has entrusted their loved one to Rivera Family Funerals and Cremations, Los Alamos, NM.