Elaine Elizabeth Paulson Wildman
May 8, 1922 - September 5, 2021
Elaine was born to Anna Ethel (Bergdahl) and Arvid Crelius Paulson on May 18, 1922, in Upper Michigan’s Copper Country (near Lake Superior). As a child she loved frolicking in the woods, swimming, sledding, and skiing. She worked in a WW2 munitions factory like a real life Rosie the Riveter, while she earned her undergrad and her Master of Social Work degree.
At First Unitarian Church of Dallas she met and married Avenell Thomas Wildman. Into this union three children were born: Michael, Lisa, and Paul. Elaine mourned the premature deaths of her dear son Paul and her dear husband Tom.
Such grief might have crushed some, but Elaine was not one to lose herself in grief. Instead she chose to focus on ways in which she could leave this earth better than she found it. She was very active in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, where she was one of the founding members, and taught and organized religious education. The church she and Tom helped create was the first chartered UU church in the United States after the Unitarian and Universalists united in 1961. Shortly before her death she was able to participate in the congregation’s 60th anniversary party.
In 1959, she joined with a friend to create the Dallas Association for Parent Education, which still serves parents and children today. The organization offered classes for expectant parents, and on behalf of mothers and babies, lobbied hospitals and doctors to adopt more modern childbirth techniques and to promote breastfeeding. She joined the faculty of Bishop College (a historically black college) and taught Gerontology, Social Work, and general Social Studies. When the college ran out of funds to pay faculty, she continued to work without pay out of love and concern for her students. When the college closed she worked with her son Mike, booking photography services into day care centers and schools throughout the Metroplex.
Always interested in politics, she cast her first ballot to re-elect FDR, never missed an opportunity to vote, and well into her 90s was still helping register voters. She was active in the League of Women Voters and a proud card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Elaine was an avid reader and lifelong student. In later life she sought to learn about her Swedish heritage. She organized programming for the Swedish Vasa Lodge, traveled to Sweden, and organized and danced in a Scandinavian folk dancing group. In her 70s she took Tai Chi classes, and did Tai Chi exercise every morning for years. For 25 years she volunteered to help teach kindergarteners to read at local TG Terry Elementary School. There was little that could dissuade her once she set her sights on a new experience, especially if it could help her community.
Elaine was preceded in death by her husband Tom, her son Paul, and siblings Gene Paulson Hawkins and William Paulson. She is survived by her children, Lisa Wildman and Mike Wildman, as well as her grandchildren, Sean Wildman, Christopher Schiano, and Daniel Schiano, and many beloved nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, all who basked in the joy of her love.
We will all miss her beautiful smile and hugs.