Obituary of Carol Enelse Wilkie
Carol Enelse Wilkie
The old Bell Piano in our family living room in Edgewater, B.C., has fallen silent.
Carol Wilkie, wife, mother, musician, teacher and friend, died peacefully on August 13, 2021.
Born in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Carol’s musical gifts quickly surfaced. She taught herself to play piano at an early age and was encouraged by her parents to study violin. Academically brilliant, she studied music at the University of Portland performing as a violinist and was asked to join the Banff School of Fine Arts (aka Banff Centre) Opera Orchestra in 1961.
It was in this heady mix of music and mountains that she met Gerry Wilkie, who was working a summer job on the grounds of the school. They were married in Vancouver in 1962, returning to Banff soon after, where they welcomed the arrival of their daughter Jaana. In the fall of 1963, the Banff Centre sent Gerry to the University of Alberta for training and during this time, new baby in tow, Carol played viola in the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Once back in Banff, Carol continued with the Opera Orchestra, while Gerry assumed the role of Grounds Supervisor. In 1966 their son Max was born.
During the ensuing years in Banff, Carol juggled motherhood, baking bread from scratch, studies at the University of Calgary, composing music for theatrical productions, and many other creative pursuits, including acting in community theatre. Throughout it all, she maintained a roster of music students and later taught music appreciation at local schools in the Bow Valley. Carol had a love for all aspects of music. She enjoyed evenings making music at Banff’s varied nightclubs and restaurants; and, especially valued sharing the stage from time to time with Banff’s legendary bandmaster Louis Trono. In those early days, the Banff Centre staff were a tight knit community and many social functions would close with Carol at the piano, leading rousing singsongs. Eventually Carol began working at the Banff Centre and was soon appointed as Purchasing Manager.
Close friends of Carol and Gerry had a vacation home on Lake Windermere, and after the first visit, Carol fell in love with the Columbia Valley, which reminded her of her roots in southern Oregon. This led to Carol and Gerry purchasing property in Edgewater in 1975. Many enjoyable weekends followed over the years as their legendary garden grew bigger and the tiny old house finally gave way to a new home designed by Carol.
After retiring in 1995, Carol moved permanently to Edgewater, opening the wonderful acoustics of her living room to a new community of music students, young and old, encouraging them to feel the joy of music. Because of her extraordinary empathy and intuition, her music lessons often led to lessons in life as well. This is her most powerful legacy.
Her listening skills provided solace for many, including Melissa, who she and Gerry opened their hearts and home to in 1999. They took her into their family, raising her as a daughter, seeing her through high school and university. An amazing cook, a prodigious reader with keen curiosity, someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a strong supporter of women’s rights, a decrier of racism and intolerance, these were all key parts of Carol’s character.
Following her cancer diagnosis in late 2020, Carol remained at home in Gerry’s care. She spent the last days of her life in the loving company of her husband of almost 60 years and her children. Jaana gently brushed her mother’s hair, the two of them laughing often while untangling a lifetime of love and loss. Max played his trusty guitar for her one last time, every note filled with love and appreciation. Melissa was there to reaffirm their mutual love and gratitude while sharing treasured memories. She was moved to Ivy House for a few short days where she passed away peacefully. Her family thanks the kind staff at the Invermere Hospital and Ivy House enough for their care and support. Anyone who knew her will miss this wonderful woman.
Her song may have ended but her melody lingers on.
In her memory, please consider a donation to the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival Scholarship Fund.