Sunday, December 12, 2004

Obituary: Selma Tilker Harris - Class of 1928

MADISON - Selma Tilker Harris, age 94, of Meriter Health Center, Madison, died Tuesday evening, Dec. 7, 2004, peacefully in her sleep. She was born in Reedsburg in 1910, the daughter of Herman Tilker and Anna (Krey) Tilker. She was graduated with honors from Madison Central High School in 1928, and completed nurses' training at the University of Wisconsin in 1932. She continued at the university, receiving her B.S. degree in sociology in 1935. Selma joined United Airlines in 1936, pioneering as the first stewardess from Madison, clocking in more hours in the air than any other stewardess of her time. In these exciting early days of flying, she traveled extensively throughout the U.S., and was based in Chicago and later San Francisco. In 1948, she married Sherwin B. Harris Jr. ("Bucky"), originally of Buffalo, N.Y., and moved to Norwalk, Ohio, where they lived for three years while he was president of Mary Lee Candies. They then moved to Pelham Manor, N.Y., where she lived until 1988 (with a year spent back in Madison, 1962-63). Her husband held a number of top executive positions in Manhattan, including president of Louis Sherry, Holly Corp., chairman of Childs Restaurants, Executive Search Corp., Caribbean Material & Supply Co., and went on to found Harris & Harris Management Consultants and Computer Tutors Corp. He died in 1970, at age 61. Selma moved back to Madison in 1987, living on Monroe Street, Meriter Terrace and finally at Meriter Health Center, where she received loving care until her death. Selma was a very caring and loving person. She will be greatly missed. Survivors include her son, Sherwin III, a Manhattan-based art director and graphic designer, and his wife, Peggy, an interior designer, of Mount Vernon, N.Y.; sister-in-law, Catherine Tilker of Lodi; nieces, Ruth Rogers of Sun Prairie and Chris Scoville of Cottage Grove, and Elaine Gomperts of Penfield, N.Y.; nephews, Tom Tilker of Colorado Springs, Colo., Jim and Steve Tilker, of Phoenix, Ariz., Dennis Pearson, now in New Zealand, Jerry Tilker of Fort Wayne, Ind., Tom Harris of Anaheim, Calif., and Craig Harris, of Wilmington, N.C.; and cousins. She was also preceded in death by her parents; seven brothers, Lawrence, Clarence, Herman, Frederick, William, John and Lucien Tilker; and her sister, Lucy Pearson. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004, at 11 a.m. at SCHROEDER CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3325 E. Washington Ave., Madison. The Rev. Glen Reichelderfer and the Rev. John Thomas, of Christ Presbyterian Church, will officiate. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the services at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Forest Hill Cemetery. Cress Funeral and Cremation Service 3325 E. Washington Ave.

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on December 11, 2004

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