Caryl Wilhoite

July 31, 1944April 17, 2021

Caryl Lou Wilhoite passed away on April 17, 2021 after a courageous struggle with Parkinson’s disease. She leaves behind to cherish her memory, her beloved husband, Bert M. Wilhoite, Indianapolis, her loving son, Bret Wilhoite (Erin) of Denver, CO, her devoted daughter, Rebecca Jacklin (Tony) Zionsville, her sister, Patricia Fernandes of Winter Park, CO, and her sisters-in-law, Ann Brilley (Mike) of Minneapolis, and Tilly Wilhoite of Chicago. She was a proud grandmother of AJ and Meg Jacklin, and Trey and Ellie Wilhoite and a caring aunt of nieces Sara Yoder, Jane Gossard, Joan Weinand, and Dana Harrits, and her nephew Niels Peterson. She was preceded in death by her parents, Alvin and Lucile Fernandes, her parents-in-law, Will and Martha Wilhoite, all of Indianapolis, and her brother-in-law, Chip Wilhoite of NYC. Caryl was born in Indianapolis on July 31, 1944 and attended various IPS schools until her family moved to West Lafayette, IN. She graduated from West Lafayette H.S. in 1961 and then from DePauw University in 1965. While at DePauw, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and met Bert, the love of her life. After they both earned their Bachelors’ degrees at DePauw, Caryl went to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts to earn an advanced degree in history while Bert underwent training to become an officer in the United States Navy. They were reunited in 1966 and married at Meridian Street United Methodist Church on June 25 of that year. Shortly thereafter, Bert left for a yearlong tour in Vietnam, and Caryl started her career in education as a history teacher at Washington High School in Indianapolis, where she inspired her students to reach their potential. After Bert fulfilled his military commitment, they settled back in Indianapolis, and Bert embarked on a successful career in manufacturing while Caryl continued working as a well-loved teacher. When Bret and Becky were born in the early seventies, Caryl opted to become a full-time mother. She treasured the years that she spent at home with her wonderful children as she devoted herself to them as well as to local volunteer organizations. Among the civic groups that Caryl joined was The Junior League of Indianapolis, of which she served as president. As the years passed, and Bret and Becky became more independent, Caryl felt drawn back to the classroom by her love for teaching and her passion for history. From 1984 to 1986 she taught U.S. History at Teen Challenge, an IPS program for teen age girls who struggled with interpersonal issues and addictions. In 1987, Caryl became chair of the Social Studies Department at Eastwood Middle School in MSD Washington Township. She continued serving there for more than twenty years, dedicating herself to supporting all of her students and instilling in them a genuine interest in our country’s history. To Caryl, a full life meant cheerful engagement and community service. Therefore, in her retirement years, she dedicated herself to many local organizations and service groups. She attended St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and was a member of Meridian Hills Country Club, The Progressive Club, The Women’s Club of Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Bridge Club, The Woodstock CC Women’s Bridge Group, and Mu Alpha Latreian, which provides support for The Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, and she served on the Board of Goodwill Industries Foundation of Central Indiana. Intellectual curiosity and a fascination with other cultures inspired Caryl and Bert to become avid travelers. They traversed the United States, visiting innumerable museums, national parks, and places of historic significance. Then, they “took on the world” visiting Russia, Egypt, Israel, China, South Africa, and the sites of World War II battles across Europe. Caryl had a particular interest in the United Kingdom and the family of Queen Elizabeth II, especially Princess Diana. After the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Caryl named her treasured standard poodle after the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa. Bert and Caryl’s life together comprised a beautiful love story of adventure, generosity, long-term friendships and strong family ties. Throughout her lifetime, our dear Caryl was caring, compassionate, loving, graceful, and charming. She was gracious to each person she met and made everyone feel welcome, both at their home in Indianapolis and at their condo in Bonita Bay, FL. She possessed a boundless devotion to her family, her community and her country, and she enriched the lives of all she encountered. Caryl Wilhoite’s life was truly a life well-lived. The Wilhoite family would like to extend a special thanks to the faithful friends who supported Caryl during her illness as well as to her caregivers, Alison and Winnie.

Caryl’s memorial service will be celebrated on Saturday April 24th at 3:30pm in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. You are invited to visit the website to share a personal memory of Caryl or arrange a memorial contribution to Rock Steady Boxing, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center or Bosma Foundation.


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, April 24, 2021



Caryl Wilhoite

have a memory or condolence to add?

Preston Breunig

April 27, 2021

My deepest condolences on your loss. I have known Caryl for many years and she was a very special lady. She will truly be missed.

Maggie Downing- Robison

April 27, 2021

To the Family of Mrs. Wilhoite,

I would like to leave my condolences to you I am a former student of your loved one. She was my History teacher at George Washington High School Indpls, IN. I never imagined that I could attend College and make a difference in this world and as I sat in her class and watched a film on slavery I felt so hurt and enraged at how Black people were being treated. I could not react being a minority in the class so I just stopped watching the film and looked down but as I was leaving the class room Mrs. Wilhoite asked if she could speak with me; With tears in my eyes I spoke with her not knowing that what she said would change my life forever. She told me, "you are such a smart student and don't let what happened in the past shape your future. You have nothing to be ashamed of and if you want, You Can Walk On Water. "

She did not know that one encounter would change my life forever. I graduated from college and met the love of my life. We had a wonderful family all because of the encounter with her that day and her telling me that I Could walk on Water, in which I carried within my heart all days.

The Lord has a beautiful spirit with you among the angels. You did walk on water.

Steve Miller

April 25, 2021

Dear Bert,
I’m so sorry to hear of her passing, particularly since I’m having a similar struggle with PD. I wish I had gotten to know her but if she lived with you, sainthood is surely in the offing. I wish I could add something more meaningful but please know my thoughts and prayers are with you both.


Kathy Rieke

April 25, 2021

Caryl was a great mentor and friend. We team taught in the 90’s at Eastwood, she helped me grow in my role as Department Chair, we wrote grants together including the very first internet connection for Eastwood and we even danced on stage together for the WT foundation fundraiser. We had a lot of laughs and celebrated many educational successes together. I will miss her so much but know that God is going to have a lot of fun with his new angel. Love you, Caryl!

Carla Shadiow

April 24, 2021

Caryl's impact on the students and staff at Eastwood is hard to express in a few words. She was an energetic leader who brought new ideas, educational and fun field trips, caring discipline and selfless interest in others to the lives of Eastwood Eagles. Because of her, American Pride became a well-loved tradition that taught many students and staff members about loving and appreciating our country and its history. Caryl was my "next door neighbor" in the eighth grade hallway for many years. She supported and encouraged me and always expressed an interest in my family and our activities. Her intellect, leadership, and planning ability inspired me. Caryl will always have a special place in my heart. Dear Wilhoite Family, I continue to pray for you in your great loss, and I'm grateful for the beautiful legacy Caryl leaves in and for you.

Carolyn Agness

April 24, 2021

We all were so sorry to hear about Caryl's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. She was so special to our family and touched so many other lives too. She was a woman of many talents and involved in lots of community and family activities. She will be missed. We feel very fortunate to have known her and experienced several stages of life with her.

Our deepest sympathies,
The Agness family

Judith Muirhead

April 23, 2021

Family, Friends, Co-workers, Co-volunteers and even Acquaintances GRIEVE the loss of Everyone's CARYL! I never saw this amazingly talented lady without a smile on her face! She welcomed everyone as though he/she was her Best Friend EVER! Though I wasn't fortunate to ever get "paired" in the same golf 4-some with Caryl at MHCC, seeing her in the locker room and at lunch was still such a JOY as she exuded her joy-of-life and genuine love and concern for each of us! My deepest sympathies to each and all of you! Judy Muirhead

Rick Webb

April 23, 2021

I was fortunate to be a colleague of Caryl's at Eastwood Middle School. Caryl was the consummate educator who touched the lives of many of her former students, as well as colleagues. To serve on committees with Caryl provided a learning experience in preparation and dedication. Caryl's legacy will live on in the heart and soul of those she came in contact with during her educational career, including mine. To the Wilhoite family, my love and condolences.

Ayanna King

April 22, 2021

I had the honor of working with Caryl (I called her Mrs. Wilhoite still) on the gold star team at Eastwood Middle School. It was my first teaching experience, and she welcomed me with the warmest of open arms! We laughed a lot! Cried a little! And she shared her wisdom. Still, over 15 years since I’ve worked with Caryl, I can hear her advising: “if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”! And I’ve shared her wisdom with other new, budding teachers. She will always be in my heart! What a blessing to have known you!

Chris Brunette

April 22, 2021

I remember Caryl as a gracious, hard-working educator. One of our mutual friends, Beth Williams, who was an Eastwood guidance counselor and who is now struggling with dementia, would want to wish you her sympathy, along with mine, in your time of loss. We both knew Caryl as a vibrant, skilled teacher.