Walter T. Wilkening

September 8, 1925November 17, 2016

Walter Theodore Wilkening, of Columbia, MO, passed away peacefully on November 17, 2016 at the age of 91. Services will be held on Tuesday November 22 with Visitation at 1:00pm followed by the Memorial service at 2:00pm at Community United Methodist Church in Columbia.

Walt was born on a farm near Oak Ridge, MO on September 8, 1925 to Theodore C. and Myrtle Lang Wilkening. He was preceded in death by older sister, Verna, older brothers, Eugene and Marvin, and wife, Norma Richter Wilkening, whom he had married on St. Patrick’s Day, 1945, at Zion United Methodist Church. His is survived by sons David Wayne of Summerville, SC and Lee Edward of Phoenix, AZ.

Walt accomplished the amazing feat of progressing from a rural farm upbringing during the Great Depression, where he rode his horse to a one-room schoolhouse at Apple Creek Valley Rural School, all the way to obtaining a Ph.D. As a young boy, he was active in 4-H and was the first person from Cape County to win the Thomas E. Wilson Meat Animal Award, a feat that inspired him to go to college to become a County Extension Agent. After graduating from Oak Ridge High School, he attended Southeast Missouri University and the University of Missouri – Columbia (UMC), where he obtained a B.S. Degree in 1949. After working for 12 years, he obtained a M.S. Degree in Extension Education at UMC in 1963, before obtaining his Ph.D in Extension Administration in 1965 from the University of Wisconsin. He was also past president of the Epsilon Sigma Phi Extension professional organization at UMC.

After obtaining his B.S. Degree in 1949, Walt embarked on a 40-year career at UMC. His career began with 10 years working as County Extension Agent for the UMC Extension Service, the position that he had always dreamt of as a boy. He later worked in 12 other roles at UMC, including program development for the Extension Information Department, Campus Coordinator for the UMC – USAID (United States Agency for International Development) program, and the Director of Conferences and Short Courses. However, perhaps most notably during his career, were several stints working as Extension Advisor in UMC – USAID programs consisting of 2 years in Bihar India; 6 years in Bhubaneswar, India; and finally, 2 years in Suakoko, Liberia. His loyal and adventurous wife accompanied him on all these trips, including taking their two young sons on the trips to India, where they obtained an extraordinary cultural experience of their own.

Walt and Norma were lifetime members and supporters of the United Methodist Church and after Walt’s retirement in 1990, they continued their life-long commitment of helping others improve their lives by becoming Volunteers in Mission to various church-related and charitable organizations at 16 different locations within the US and overseas.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to Community United Methodist Church, Columbia MO.


  • Visitation Tuesday, November 22, 2016
  • Memorial Service Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Walter T. Wilkening

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LeeAnn Sinclair

November 28, 2016

Dear Wayne and Lee,
Your parents were inspirations to so many. I will always think of their unselfish service as a challenge to my own life.
LeeAnn Sinclair

November 22, 2016

Sorry to hear of Walt's passing. He was one of our "Pathfinders" at CUMC Methodist Men's group, a group of older guys who mentored the next generation. Walt was also a personal mentor, working with me on our grounds crew, trimming trees and working around the church. He will be missed. Thanks to the family for sharing him with us all these years. I will miss services, as I am in court all day Tuesday, but will be thinking about you all. Let me know if I can help with anything. I suspect the guys will want to plant a tree in his honor on the grounds.
-Rob Fleming, Past Pres., UMM