Dude Wilkerson was a father to anyone who needed a helping hand, said his son, Mike Wilkerson.
“He was a father to everyone in the community. People looked up to him and my Mom. When people had trouble, they turned to them,” he said. “We were a solid, stable family.”
Ova “Dude” Wilkerson, 89, of Dyer, died Sept. 21. He worked for Standard Oil in Whiting, taking early retirement at age 57. He was a member of Dyer United Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by Florence Wilkerson, his wife of 66 years, in April 2013.
“I know they fought, but we never saw them,” his son said. “They were the kind of couple you looked up to.”
He was a member of the Army Air Corps at the beginning of World War II, and flew 32 missions before his plane was shot down in March 1945.
“He was shot down over Germany, but the pilot got across Allied lines before Dad, who was the radioman, jumped out,” he said.
He loved going to his summer house on Lake Pepin in Minnesota.
“He loved to go there and fish, or ride the boat,” his son said. “He made sure the kids caught fish, and he cleaned them all.”
Wilkerson said his father put his family first, and taught everyone the value of working hard and being responsible for your actions.
“We were never rich, but we never wanted for anything,” he said. “He was a good man respected by everyone who knew him.”