Cherry Blossoms

Kathleen Harkness Wilder

December 23, 1928 ~ September 5, 2019 (age 90)


Kathleen Harkness Wilder passed away peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family on September 5, 2019 at Brightview Fallsgrove in Rockville Maryland.  She died from complications following a traumatic brain injury from a fall at the age of 90. 

Kathie was born in Insull, Kentucky on December 23, 1928.  She grew up the middle child of five sisters in Pineville, Kentucky in the home her father built in 1937.  Her father, a Baptist Minister, died in 1943 when she was only 15 years old.

Kathie is survived by the love of her life, husband William Melvin Wilder (88) of Gaithersburg, Maryland.  Additionally, she is survived by her 3 daughters, Michelle (Jim) Cagley of Olney, MD, Stacey (Pete) Leary of Livermore, CA, and Renee (Greg) Anderson of San Clemente, CA; 8 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and her sister Patricia Wagner. 

Kathie is preceded in death by her parents, Bryan and Mary (Innings) Harkness and 3 of her sisters, Juanita Longmire, Dorcus Kretzinger and Sarah Harkness.

Kathie lived an extraordinarily ordinary and wonderful life with a husband she adored for 68 years of marriage. Anyone that met them was enriched by witnessing their once in a lifetime love for one another.  They met at Bell High School in Kentucky.  After graduation, she worked for the Pineville Sun as a writer for the society page.  On August 10, 1951, she would write the news of her own wedding.  Soon after they married, Bill was sent to Germany serving in the Army.  At that time, it was not customary for spouses to follow their husbands abroad; however, Kathie, true to form, found her way onto a ship to Germany where she worked as an assistant to the General in the Officers Club.  Upon their return to the United States in 1954, they would start a family and lovingly raise 3 girls in Richmond, Virginia.  In 1970, they moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland where they would reside for the next 49 years. 

Kathie’s family was her pride and joy and always her first priority.  She also enjoyed playing bridge, solitaire and beating the grandchildren at any and all board games.  Kathie volunteered in various charities and worked as a Contracts Manager at Peak/Mesa. She also dabbled in Real Estate in Montgomery Village.  In her spare time, she was a master seamstress, amazing cook and even made her own jewelry.  She had an uncanny ability to garden with little effort and to produce and can enough food for her family to enjoy all winter long.  Her favorite pastime was assisting Bill in his woodworking shop where he made all the furniture in their home.

Many summer weekends were spent at their favorite getaway, the 'Rivah' on the Piankatank River in Mathews, Virginia, where her southern hospitality fostered an atmosphere that created beautiful memories with family and friends. Her affection for the 'Rivah' has now been passed down through generations.

The Celebration of life will be held at their home in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Saturday September 28th from 4pm- 7pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer Association, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or  JSSA Hospice (Jewish Social Services Agency).


Celebration of Life
September 28, 2019

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM


Alzheimer's Association
225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17,, Chicago IL 60601
Tel: 1-800-272-3900

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105
Tel: 1-800-805-5856

JSSA Hospice
6123 Montrose Rd, Rockville MD 20852
Tel: 1-301-816-2676

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