Mary Lou Wilkinson, 80, public affairs official

Mary Lou Wilkinson
Mary Lou Wilkinson
Posted: February 22, 2014

Mary Lou Wilkinson, 80, of Philadelphia, a public affairs official who served the City of Philadelphia under six mayors, died Sunday, Feb. 9, of a stroke at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.

Ms. Wilkinson's tenure with the city began in 1967 under Mayor James H.J. Tate and ended in 2003 under Mayor John F. Street.

A tall, striking redhead who loved to wear bright colors, Ms. Wilkinson started her career with the city on Valentine's Day.

She was responsible for managing public relations efforts for large, citywide special events and programs, and for attracting a local, national, and international audience.

She wrote speeches, mayoral proclamations, and news releases, consistently approaching the research, and writing with diligence and pride.

"Mary Lou was a little bit of Katharine Hepburn mystery, a little bit of a Mad Men woman, and a little bit of I Love Lucy antics. Her disarming charm, grace, and laughter engaged the press to write the story," said Bonnie Grant, a friend and former colleague.

Ms. Wilkinson was born in Atlantic City and graduated from Georgian Court University, a Roman Catholic college in Ocean County, N.J.

She began her career in New York City as a writer and editor for Ladies' Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper. After she settled in Philadelphia in the 1960s, she was a longtime resident of the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.

In her spare time, she was passionate about Latin, tango, and ballroom dancing. She competed until January, often winning awards, Grant said. Ms. Wilkinson also was a world traveler, loved the theater, and tutored students in reading.

Surviving are two cousins.

Services were Friday, Feb. 14.

Contributions may be made to St. Patrick Church, 20th and Locust Streets, Philadelphia 19103, where she was a longtime member.


bcook@phillynews.com

610-313-8102

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