A doctor's recommendation led Wilma Young Wiley and two sons to Florida.
By STEVE THOMPSON
Published December 4, 2005
In 1930, she gave birth in a little Pennsylvania coal mining town to a baby who would become Florida's longest-serving congressman.
She had another baby there, but her husband left, and she began raising the two boys on her own in her father's converted toolshed.
Illness, exhaustion and a doctor's recommendation led her to Florida, where her oldest son launched a political career and she launched another family.
This weekend, her four children are remembering a hard-working woman who was, above all, committed to her family.
Wilma Young Wiley died early Saturday (Dec. 3, 2005) in a nursing home after a period of declining health. She was 92.
Her firstborn, Rep. C.W. Bill Young, recalls that old toolshed on the Allegheny River being crowded with him, his mother and brother. They had no light and no water. They lived there until he was about 6, when the river washed it away.
His mother was even-tempered, he said, and rarely got angry. But then neither he nor his brother gave her much trouble, he said.
"My mother and Tom and I, we were pretty close," he said.
She worked in a shoe store for a time among other jobs, Young recalled, and did clerical work for the rationing board after World War II started.
She worked too hard, he said, and became ill.
"The doctor suggested that she needed a rest, away from some of the pressures of her life there in Pennsylvania," he said. And that's how Young, who has been the voice of southern Pinellas County in Congress for decades, landed in Florida.
In the 1950s, he was selling insurance and cementing his name into the local Republican Party. Meanwhile, his mother had married a building contractor, Calvin Wiley, and they were raising another son and daughter, Timothy and Susan Wiley.
Mrs. Wiley kept working. After Young became an aide to his predecessor, Rep. William C. Cramer, his mother became Cramer's office assistant. She worked there for more than a decade, then at the Veterans Administration.
In later years, when she and her husband retired, Mrs. Wiley's spare time revolved around family.
"For years, every Sunday afternoon," Young said, "the more people that were there for her Sunday afternoon dinner, the better she liked it."
Her husband died in 2000. In addition to her children, Mrs. Wiley is survived by a number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Arrangements are being made by Taylor Funeral Home in Pinellas Park.
--Staff writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.