Karen Janice (Penny) Wilhelm, 65, of Tahlequah, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, at Solara LTACH in Muskogee, due to complications of myotonic muscular dystrophy.
Karen was born May 31, 1947, in St. Louis, Mo., to Betty and Rochelle R. Penny. She graduated from Ritenour Senior High School in St. Louis, attended Southeast Missouri State College in Cape Girardeau, Mo., prior to marrying the love of her life, Dutch Wilhelm, in St. Louis on June 3, 1967.
She spent the early years of their marriage as a supportive Air Force officer’s wife, with duty stations at Sacramento, Calif. (Mather Air Force Base), Tuscon, Ariz. (Davis-Monthan AFB), Victorville, Calif. (George AFB), and Alamagordo, N.M. (Holloman AFB).
Other moves took the family to St. Louis and Wentzville, Mo.; Charleston, W.V.; Cincinatti, Ohio; Indianapolis and Wabash, Ind.; Batesville, Ark., and finally, the last 20 years were spent in Tahlequah.
Karen was an accomplished pianist at a very young age, and never lost her love for music.
She learned to fly a Cessna 150 small aircraft, and soloed while managing Mount Comfort Aviation Flight School – for two and a half years – while living in Indiana.
She directed a choir for the developmentally disabled at Oklahoma Production Center
She was a member of the First Lutheran Church. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and friend.
Karen is survived by her husband of 45 years, Dutch Wilhelm; daughter, Penny Johnson; son, Erik Wilhelm; grandson, Ryan Johnson; parents, Betty and Rochelle Penny; and sister, Cheryl Penny.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Stan Penny (Oct. 2008).
A memorial/celebration of life service will be held at First Lutheran Church, Tahlequah, Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.