“Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice in here calling me to be the person I was born to be . . .” —Thomas Merton
We lost a dear friend and beloved community member when Wilma O’Nan passed away, on February 4, at the age of 82. Today, we’re reflecting on her life of love, compassion, and service, and on the vital role she played in the early days of Chinook.
Wilma moved from California to Whidbey Island in 1978 to get involved with the Chinook Learning Community—now the Whidbey Institute. Chinook Co-Founder Vivienne Hull remembers Wilma’s arrival with vivid clarity and humor.
“Back at the very beginning, when we didn’t have a clue about what we were doing at all, I got a letter from this woman who wanted to know what she could do to help. I didn’t even know how to answer it, so I didn’t. It was one of the only letters to which I didn’t even write back,” Vivienne said. “Just a few weeks later, this VW bug drove down the road. It was Wilma. She said, ‘you didn’t answer when I wrote, so I figured you needed secretarial help.’” Wilma worked for Chinook as an employee in varied capacities, including secretarial, for the next six years.