Bye, Beautiful Brenda

Brenda Wilson

Brenda in one of her natural habitats, her garden. Photo by Robin Wilson.

In early March, we lost a beautiful soul.

Beauty defined Brenda Wilson, inside and out. She often appeared to glow like the sun, and her quick smile could literally light up a room.

Brenda was a former professor at WV State University, where she was responsible for initiating an Earth Day program that OVEC regularly attended, in order to provide informational materials to students. That’s how I first met her; in that context and others, her energy and enthusiasm and sense of humor was amazing.

She could often be found at environmental justice events on weekends, or evenings,despite her demanding work schedule.

Following her retirement from WVSU, Brenda stepped up her leadership in her local community of Spencer, WV. She helped local political candidates, volunteered for many organizations, and was a driving force in helping her own church adopt energy efficiency policies, and add a solar array to their roof.

Brenda, second from left, at the time Spencer PC received an OVEC award for their solar project.

After Spencer Presbyterian, her church, achieved these goals, Brenda assisted Glenville Presbyterian in also adopting solar as their more sustainable energy source. She was an OVEC supporter, and a member of the WV Presbytery Stewardship of Creation Ministry Team, among her many affiliations.

Her husband, Robin, worked with WV Citizens Action Group for years; our condolences go out to him, and the rest of Brenda’s family and close friends.

Here is some of what Robin shared during Brenda’s burial, a small, family affair:

  • We have all been touched by Brenda’s unique spirit.
  • Brenda’s daughter Maria shared this Jewish saying ”May her memory be a blessing.”
  • Brenda built the road by walking it—a road for a more compassionate world filled with laughter, filled with dedicated work to make an even playing field for students, our environment and the underdog.
  • She had no ideological hierarchy to distance her from others. She loved to laugh with another person… 
  • As a close friend to Brenda, I think our life together was an adventure—working for a better world, growing our own food and building our own home. 

Picture courtesy of Kayla Walsh

Brenda gave so much to:

  • Helping Hand
  • West Virginia Can’t Wait
  • Spencer Presbyterian Church, the WV Presbytery Stewardship of Creation Ministry Team, plus helping other churches achieve an Earth Care certification through PCUSA.
  • Solar power at home and at church
  • Teaching at WVSU
  • Heartwood in the Hills
  • Spencer Ministerial association
  • Democrat Executive Committee
  • Roane Recycle Board
  • Pleasant Hill School
  • Woman’s Prayer Group
  • Meditation group
  • Yoga class
  • Book club
  • Committee on Aging
  • Family and friends

Brenda and Robin’s closest neighbor, and good friend, (and OVEC member), Mary Wildfire says this about Brenda:

In describing Brenda, the word ‘unassuming’ has been used by many, and Ken Lewis, who leads the local meditation groups, said that Brenda had ‘a life in service to others.’ I believe there are many organizations that will be struggling without her quiet, unpaid, competent direction.

Clearly, Brenda was a good neighbor, a loving family member, a community builder, and an amazing inspiration to many people. Words can’t describe how much she will be missed.

Here are some of the tributes now on her Facebook page:

I met Brenda Wilson through political activism, and during my campaign she was always there helping, encouraging, and bringing positivity and joy to every situation. As I came to know her better, I realized she was that caring with everyone, all the time. She was always helping others and improving the lives of others. I’m grateful to have known her. She will be deeply missed.    
    – Sarah Duncan

Picture courtesy of Jan Bailey

You helped me find my footing in a new religion, you helped me find my voice to advocate for our planet locally, you even gave me a back rub when I had a headache! My heart hurts. I will miss you deeply, Brenda. You were an amazing friend and I admired you so. I will continue to honor the things you fought for and be mindful of our mission always. You made this world a better place.
 Kayla Walsh (member of Glenville Presbyterian Church  and the WV Presbytery Stewardship of Creation Ministry Team)

If anyone on this planet could have eliminated hate from our hearts and minds it would have been Dr. Brenda Wilson. She was one of my dearest friends throughout our teaching careers. She was the most kind, non-materialistic, intelligent woman I have ever met. She touched so many lives and made each feel special and valuable… Be kind. Do it for Brenda.
       – Jan Bailey (Brenda’s friend and colleague)

Her obituary reads: 

Brenda Scholz Termini Wilson was born January 21, 1948 in Berkeley Springs, WV, the daughter of J. Walter Scholz and Margaret Haddox Scholz. She was married on August 26, 1988 to Robin Wilson in St. Marys, WV. They both loved gardening and were especially compatible on social issues.

Brenda received her Mathematics degree from Catholic University in Washington DC, her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Marshall University and her Doctorate in Special Education from West Virginia University. She was a teacher for most of her life, starting with teaching elementary-aged students with disabilities when her youngest was a pre-schooler, and continuing teaching online university courses until a few months before her death.

Mrs. Wilson was an active member of Spencer Presbyterian Church, the Keepers of the Flame Women’s Prayer Group and the Spencer Meditation Group. She also volunteered with the Helping Hand Food Pantry, the Regional Land Trust of West Virginia, and other community organizations right up until her passing. She was an environmentalist who enjoyed knitting, reading, heartwarming movies, and amusing herself with word play and life’s incongruities. She had a ready smile and a glint of mischief in her eye, but she did her best not to tease people too much. She was especially remembered by her children and former students as being an encouraging presence in their lives.

She is survived by her brother, John Scholz, and sister, Jennifer Scholz, and by her children; Angela Termini of Brooklyn, NY; Maria Termini of Brooklyn, NY; and Kiya Wilson and his wife, Ellen Barry, of New York, NY. She is also survived by two grandchildren, Alice Wilson and June Wilson, and many loving nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Frank Termini, and sister, Margaret Murray.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Helping Hand Food Pantry, 811 Madison Avenue, Spencer WV 25276.

Public memorial services for this amazing woman will be scheduled later in the year.
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The Author

Robin Blakeman

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