Wilkie passed away January 4, 2021, three weeks shy of her 96th birthday. She was born on a rice plantation in Lake Charles, Louisiana on February 1, 1925 to the late Mayrant Adams and the late Ellen Ellis Lampton Adams. Wilkie moved from Gulfport to Jackson in 1941 and quickly found her way into the life of Central High School. She attended Gulf Park, Millsaps and Ole Miss. In 1950 Paul Edward Engle, Jr. captured her in marriage which was held at St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral. He knew he had a wonderful thing because one year later with her help he launched his own successful business, Engle Acoustic and Tile Company. Upon his retirement in 1999 they founded another success, Mayrant & Associates, LLC in which she was still active until her passing. You know the old saying---“behind every great man there’s a great woman”—especially when she has great business acumen!
What were her likes? A few could be swimming (she was an expert), keeping books, shoes, Destin, dangling earrings, bridge, soft shell crabs, and believe it or not, cutting grass. She also had a love of animals and showed Doberman Pinschers. Wilkie entertained her friends by having a party in honor of her beloved, Clipper, when he achieved Champion. She delighted herself in taking friends to dog shows across the country and introducing them to another way of life.
It was a pleasure to listen to her speak of Jackson history.
She could give you background about anyone who had family in Jackson and who lived in what house and when buildings were built and the stories behind all. She experienced the Depression, WWII, Prohibition, the Women’s Rights Movement, the Civil Rights Movement and much more in her years. She could reflect in detail where and what she was doing at each period in Jackson.
As emeritus member of The Junior League of Jackson (member since 1947); she held various positions such as: Assistant Treasurer, Treasurer, Finance Chairman for the construction of the current headquarters; Co-Chairmanship of the Americana Ball; Ticket Chairman of the 1966 Arts Festival; 1966 Provisional Course leader; Chairman of 1967 Carnival Ball and later Sustainer of the Year as well as serving on various committees. It was a true enjoyment for her.
Wilkie was either a present or past member of many clubs, most notably the Mississippi Art Association, Le Dejeuner Luncheon Club; Matron’s Luncheon Club (past Treasurer); National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Mississippi (past Treasurer); Debutante Club of Mississippi, Inc. (past Co-Chairman, Treasurer and Advisor); and Chi Omega Alumnae. She even spotted planes for the United States during WWII. She never spoke of what she did for others but you knew she had done something special when total strangers or not so strangers to her family would approach her in public and say thanks or say something to the family when she wasn’t present.
Having married the son of an Episcopal priest, Paul E. Engle, and having a brother-in-law, Mike Engle who was also an Episcopal priest; she soon became a confirmed Episcopalian. Paul and she were one of the first families to be communicants of St. James Episcopal Church. She was very devoted and active at the church. Wilkie knew everything about the history of St. James including stories that were better kept and not told but if you inquired she would share.
Affectionately, referred to as “Wilk” by her close friends and family, Wilkie was an exceptional lady. If you have ever seen those hazel eyes cut from under her dark auburn curly hair (gray took over in her 70s’ and no she never colored her hair), witnessed her brainy efficient manifestations or experienced her subtle humor, you would understand how special she was. She knew how to have fun in her days skipping classes at Ole Miss for adventures in Cuba; weekly get togethers with friends, mothers/daughters shopping trips, and her annual Christmas parties. She was a wonderfully loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She delighted in spending time with family and friends. She enjoyed working in the businesses alongside her husband. Those she worked with in the office and in the field, became family to her. In her later years, the highlight of her week were every Friday and Sunday evening cocktails attended by many but most especially by her dear friend, Wesley C. Lutken, Jr.
Wilkie was preceded in death by her parents, Mayrant and Ellen Ellis Lampton Adams; her sisters, Sarah Adams and Victoria Adams Sheely; her husband, Paul Edward Engle, Jr; her sons, Mayrant Adams Engle and Paul Edward Engle, III. She is survived by her daughter, Wilkie Bee Engle (Paul Andrew Gonwa); grandchildren, Paul Edward Engle, IV (Jessica Arender Engle), Samuel Mayrant Engle, Ellen Mayrant Gonwa and Wilkie Lampton Gonwa and great-granddaughter, Grace Ann Engle. She is also survived by numerous beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. Special thanks to her caregivers, Tanya Hopkins, Ruby Bates, Linda Williams, Carolyn Spiller and Annie Lee Jones who allowed her to remain at the home that her husband designed and built for them in 1961.
A family visitation was held Thursday, January 7th followed by a family graveside Rite I service, officiated by the Reverend David Elliott on Saturday, January 9th in Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, MS. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to St. James Episcopal Church, 3921 Oakridge Drive, Jackson, MS 39216. Those wishing to send online condolences may do so at Sebrell Funeral Home, Ridgeland, MS.