Kathy Antoniotti


TALLMADGE: If Winnie Wilson didn’t like a snapshot, she would “fix” it with a ballpoint pen long before anyone heard the word “Photoshop.”



When she saw a picture of herself and her toddler son, she changed it into something more to her liking, said her now 72-year-old son, John McDonald of Rootstown.



“I was 11 months old in the picture. She took an ink pen and drew hair on my head,” he said with a chuckle.



Winifred “Winnie” McDonald Wilson, 109, passed away Sunday, just four weeks shy of joining an elite group of people 110 and older called supercentenarians, according to a global group of researchers in various fields that verifies and tracks people who reach at least 110 years of age.



Gerontology Research Group has verified more than 700 North American supercentenarians, said Mark E. Muir, the group’s technical support database administrator.



The group estimates there are about 120 to 150 supercentenarians, not all verified, living in the U.S.



Mrs. Wilson was born in Beech, W.Va., on May 26, 1905, the ninth of 13 children. The former Winifred Haught headed to Akron at age 17 to find work.



While dancing the Charleston at an East Akron hall, she met her future husband, Arnold McDonald, who also liked to dance. The couple married on Aug. 22, 1924, and had five children. He died at age 51 in 1958.



During World War II, she landed a job at Goodyear Aircraft, working as “Winnie the Riveter” on Corsairs, John McDonald said.



“It was the only time she ever worked outside our home,” he said.



In 1969, Mrs. McDonald married coal miner and farmer Bailey Wilson and moved to West Virginia.



Following his death in 1984, Mrs. Wilson returned to Akron and rented a third-floor apartment in the Ellet area. After buzzing in unexpected guests at the door, she would start three pots cooking on the stove before visitors could make it up the steps, her son said.



Cooking was her specialty and the way she showered her family with love.



“She’d always serve a six- or seven-course meal. So much food —roast beef, corn, peas, green beans — you’d wonder where all the food came from,” McDonald said.



Mrs. Wilson moved to Essex Healthcare of Tallmadge, a nursing facility, 15 years ago.



An 80-year member of New Horizons Christian Church, Mrs. Wilson continued to receive communion once a month after she was no longer able to attend services, her son said. She also enjoyed crocheting, quilting, letter writing and gardening, at least until she lost her vision.



“She lost her sight in one eye 70 years ago, but she never complained,” McDonald said. “When she began to lose the sight in her other eye, she never complained.”



Mrs. Wilson was preceded in death by three children; Gloria Weston, Arnold E. McDonald and Delores Knight, as well as her siblings.



Besides John and his wife, Mary-Jean, Mrs. Wilson leaves son Stanley McDonald, 81, of Springfield Township, 24 grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren, 15 great-great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.



The family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Newcomer Funeral Home, 131 N. Canton Road, Akron. Services will be held at the funeral home at 11 a.m. Thursday, with the Rev. Jim Bane officiating. Interment will follow at Hillside Memorial Park.



In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, Akron.



Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter at: @KathyAntoniotti and on facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyAntoniotti.