By Judith Campanaro
contributing writer 

Wilma Paddock – a forever friend

Wisdom Keepers


March 5, 2022

“True friends are never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart.”

– author unknown

Wilma Paddock

Wilma Paddock is a woman to be reckoned with. I only met her recently but I knew right away that she would be a friend for life. Her smile and warm personality engulfed our conversation with an aura of comfort. Wilma is new to Tehachapi but settled in quickly. Her love for our community is apparent and it is obvious she will prove to be a welcome addition. One of her friends said, “As a friend you can’t beat her. She’s a people person through and through - always unique and caring.”

“Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more.”

– Anonymous

Wilma Paddock – a forever friend

Wilma Paddock is no stranger to small towns. She was born in Riverton, Wyoming. According to the census bureau, when Wilma was born, the population for the area was around 2,000 people. Her parents homesteaded and built a farm. When Wilma was 7, the land could no longer sustain the crops they were farming, so her parents sold the land to the government and relocated to Colorado. Wilma said, “All the little towns in Colorado were my hometown. We moved a lot.”

Family and friends are very important to Wilma. She was the fourth of six children and says that the thing that made her heart sing as a child were her siblings. She was closest to her little brother who was 13 months younger. They always looked out for each other, Wilma remembers, and had each other’s backs. Unfortunately, he passed away when he was 50 and her oldest sister passed away six years ago. She still has her other three siblings and they always stay in touch. Wilma also remains in touch with friends she has met over the years, and having moved so much, she has friends everywhere. Connecting with friends is a big part of Wilma’s life. I can attest that once you meet her you want to keep her in your circle of friends.

After graduating high school, Wilma went to college in Texas. It was the first time she lived far away from family. Wilma got terribly homesick. She only lasted one semester and went back home. Over the years she took college classes on the side and finally finished her degree in 2016. While working on continuing education, Wilma started a career in business. She said that even though she didn’t have a degree she was smart and capable, and always moved up the ladder. She started working as a business manager, then as a bookkeeper and in the accounting department. Several years later Wilma went to work for the library district in Garfield County, Colorado. In 2006, Garfield County voters had approved the creation of the Garfield County Public Library District (GCPLD), which is separate from Garfield County. She had been working at the Glenwood Springs Library as their accountant, but when they separated from the county it became her job to set up a new governmental entity. Wilma recalls it was a lot of work. When she finished the project, they appointed her to the position of assistant director of administration. She set up bonds for eight years and took care of everything for the library district.

Having worked for the library it’s no surprise that Wilma likes to read. She said she has no favorite genre. She just loves books. Currently her favorite author is CJ Banks. Wilma met him when he was just getting started in 2013. He came to the library in Glenwood Springs to promote his first book. She has been a fan ever since.

Wilma met her husband Mike when she stopped at the Holiday Inn for a drink one night before going dancing with friends. She remembers telling him where she worked and the next day, he looked her up. They have been married for 43 years. The couple has three children and seven grandchildren. When I asked Wilma what her favorite thing to do was, she replied, “Spending time with my grandkids.” In fact, that is why she moved to Tehachapi, to be closer to those precious gifts. Wilma also likes to crochet, hike, camp, garden and she is currently getting her California credentials to work as a substitute teacher.

When they first came to California Wilma and Mike were in Bakersfield for a while but after visiting Tehachapi, they knew they found what they were looking for. Wilma said she loves the people, the seasons, and the restaurants. “I wondered how a little town could have such good food. The restaurants are fabulous and the servers are so helpful and kind.”

I asked Wilma what advice she would give to others. She said, “Enjoy the moment; you never know what is going to change.” That is so true, especially now with all that is happening in our world.

Here is an expressive art activity to honor your friends.

Friendship Totem

Supplies: jewelry making supplies, beads, wire, pliers and clasps.

Let’s make a Friendship Totem. A totem is a person or thing regarded as being symbolic or representative of a particular quality or concept. In this exercise we will create a piece of jewelry to symbolize the friends in our lives. It can be a key chain, bookmark, bracelet, earrings or anything you wish. The purpose is to create a friendship talisman.

1. Make a list of all the friends that bring you joy and all the friends that you deeply care about.

2. Pick out a bead for each of the friends on your list. Let a certain type of bead (color, size or shape) represent each one.

3. Make a piece of jewelry inspired by the selection.

This exercise serves as a reminder of what makes our heart sing. It also helps facilitate a reflection of who is truly important to you.

“The Wisdom Keepers, Tehachapi Women of Substance and a Few Good Men” is a book in progress by Judith Campanaro, Tehachapi artist and resident. Judith’s love of sharing inspirational stories of others prompted her to highlight amazing locals that make Tehachapi special. The Loop newspaper will feature excerpts from the book to give you a taste of our fabulous residents. If you would like a copy, please contact Judith at In the meantime if you’d like to recommend a local person for an interview send their name and number to Judith at or (646) 896-4434. She will contact them.


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