Demaris Forsythe Wilkins
Demaris Forsythe Wilkins (Maris), formerly of Shepherdstown, died Sunday, December 7, 2020 in Celebration, Florida. She was the wife of the late Colonel Van Court Wilkins.
Born October 20, 1931 in Omaha, Nebraska, Maris was the daughter of Colonel John Dean Forsythe and Mary Pendleton Forsythe. Maris came from six generations of U.S. army officers, and was at Pearl Harbor, where her father was stationed, during the bombings of December 7, 1941. She continued the family military tradition when she married 1st Lieutenant Van Court Wilkins at Camp Hood, Texas in 1950. Maris was an active military wife, following her husband to fourteen different locations and over eighteen assignments before they retired to Shepherdstown in 1980 to begin raising cattle on their small farm. By Maris’ count, she lived in 23 different places during her lifetime. Maris and Van were married 63 years before his death in 2013.
Maris’ life centered around her husband, family and pets. She leaves five children, Kris Brown (husband, Mike), Sharon McCoy (Steve), Jill O’Neill (Pat), John Wilkins (Cindy) and Michelle Cardillo (Dan); twelve grandchildren, Ryan, Laney, Conor and Cammie Brown; Rob, Meredith and Chip McCoy; Brian and Tim O’Neill; Jack and Garrett Wilkins; and Vivian Cardillo; and five great grandchildren including a great granddaughter expected on December 11.
Maris and Van always had a love of animals, naming each member of their herd of cattle. Their family always included at least one dog, including Sampson, Maris’ devoted companion through Van’s battle against Alzheimer’s disease and years alone on the farm. During that time, the family was also blessed with Maris’ friendship with Mike Miller, without whom she could not have stayed in her home.
In 2019 Maris moved to Florida with Kris and Mike, who cared for her until her death.
Graveside service was held at 1:00 on Saturday, December 12 at Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown. Visitors will be required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and follow directives.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County (P.O. Box 147, Charles Town, WV 25414), the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department (P.O. Box F, Shepherdstown, WV 25443), or Hospice of the Panhandle (330 Hospice Lane, Kearneysville, WV 25430).
Arrangements by Brown Funeral Home.
Online condolences may be offered at www.brownfuneralhomeswv.com.