Mary Nell Wilkes, age 84, passed away in comfort at Ashton Senior Living in Lawrenceville, GA on Wednesday, September 2, 2015. Mary Nell was in her seventh year of Alzheimer’s Disease. Mary Nell was born in Swainsboro, Georgia on June 7, 1931. She was preceded in death by her parents, Clarence Willis and Annie Nella Screws Willis Shrader; and great-grandson, Brenton Scott Beshers. Mary Nell is survived by her husband of 65 years, Donald Wilkes; 2 daughters: Melody Gandolfi & husband, Tom, of Woodstock, Maryland; and Jane Lynch of Lawrenceville, GA; grandchildren: Jason Beshers & wife, Amie, of Concord, GA; Jenna Beigel & husband, Nathan, of Elliott City, Maryland; and Cameron Lynch of Lawrenceville, GA; great-grandchildren: Mitchell Crawford & wife Jessi, of Thomaston, GA; and Jaycie Beshers of Concord, GA; brother, William Willis & wife, Ann, of Fernandina Beach, FL; many cousins and friends. In 1947, Mary Nell graduated from Kite High School in Kite, GA. In 1950, at the age of 18, she graduated from Georgia Teacher’s College (now named Georgia Southern) with a degree in Education. Mary Nell served as an elementary school teacher in Georgia for 40 years, teaching in Glenville (1950-1951), Waynesboro (1951-1953), Waycross (1956-1966), and Lake City (1966-1993). In 1973, Mary Nell earned her Masters Degree from Georgia State University. Known as a strict but caring teacher, Mary Nell was awarded Teacher of the Year from Lake City Elementary in 1992. Mary Nell was a loving, compassionate person who always put others first. Most important in her life were family and taking care of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She combined fun and common sense with wisdom and warmth. She was a woman of strong faith, believing in the power and strength of Jesus Christ’s love and the beauty and peace that would await her in Heaven. A memorial service celebrating her life will be held at 3:00 pm, Saturday, September 12, 2015 at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel. Flowers are accepted, or you may consider a donation, in memory of Mary Nell, to Alzheimer’s Association, 41 Perimeter Center East, Suite 550, Atlanta, GA 30346. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 1:00-3:00 pm at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Hwy, Lawrenceville, GA 30046, 770-277-4550. Online condolences may be expressed at

View current weather.

Memories Timeline

View the Timeline


  1. Jane, I hardly know what to say. As you know, I have been there with Paula. I do know that God was right next to me as I lived through the experience of losing Paula to Alzheimers. He has stayed right next to me since that day. He has lead me past those difficult days. I believe he will lead you also. Bill Davis

  2. I was a student of Mrs. Wilkes and also a band student of Mr. Wilkes. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family. May God give you His peace and comfort.

  3. Mrs. Wilkes’ legacy will surely be the devoted daughter and granddaughter who so devotedly cared for her in her final years. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  4. Jane, my heart goes out to you and your family. I will pray for God’s peace and his presence in the day’s ahead. May you find comfort in knowing she is now whole again!

  5. Mrs. Wilkes was my 3rd grade teacher at Lake City Elementary school back in the early 70’s. She always held a special place in my heart and my condolences go out to her family.

  6. All my prayers going out to the family during this transition for Aunt Mary Nell. I know she is healed now and we will see her again one day. As time passes the pain of loss lessens but the memories remain. Heaven received another Angel… RIP Aunt Mary Nell………..

  7. So thankful you were there every step of the way with your mother, Jane, and Cameron, too. We know our Lord has been with you and your mother, too. Know how much you will miss her but thankful that now she has no pain, no frustrations, and can be with
    Jesus. Our love and prayers are with you during these days. Iris Jordan-Pierce

  8. Jane, I am so sorry for your loss but at the same time glad your mom is home now. It’s been such a difficult time for you, Cameron and your dad. Yall are in our thoughts and prayers. So glad the suffering is over.

  9. May God wrap his arms around you all as you go through this difficult time. Mary Nell was a sweet lady and will be missed by many. Love you all.

  10. Sweet Jane, what a journey you have traveled with your mom. Your smile through the tears speaks to your strength and resilience. Mary leaves an amazing legacy in you.

  11. Thoughts and prayers are with you, Cam and your Dad today! What a life of making a difference your Mom lived! Knowing she is at peace now must be of great comfort to you all! Love you! Linda

  12. Grandma will be dearly missed! I have a lot of wonder memories of her! She love Brent so much and watched him when he was little. I know they are now together again! Eating frostys and Piccadilly together!

  13. Jane,
    I know the pain you are feeling. Praying for strength, peace and comfort that only God can give you during this time. Blessings, Vicki

  14. My thoughts and prayers are with all the family. Mrs. Wilkes was my 5th grade teacher at Lake City in 1970. She has touched so many lives through teaching. She will always be remembered by her students.

  15. Jane, I’m in awe of you…the love and the strength you have shown as your walked beside your mom on this long and difficult path is unbelievable. You, your Dad and Cameron are in my prayers as you move forward carrying her forever in your hearts.

  16. Dear sweet Jane Wilkes Lynch, Donald Wilkes and Cameron Lynch, what a journey you have experienced. And what wonderful memories Mary Nell Willis Wilkes has left us with. I remember when she and Donald married, I believe they were still in college and I was still a little girl and I thought it was so neat going to their apartment to visit. She was always an important part of my life as my 1st cousin, we could go for years and not see each other, but the moment we met, it was as if it were only yesterday.

  17. We are so sorry for your loss.. May the God of all comfort, continue to be with you and your family during this difficult time. We all look forward to a time, when death will be no more-Rev 21:4. Our prayers are with you.

  18. “There are no happy endings.
    Endings are the saddest part,
    So just give me a happy middle
    And a very happy start.”

    Jane, you have been a champion with your constant care and devotion and love for your sweet Mom … and such a sweet Mom she was to all of us. I am so very sorry for the loss to you, your Dad, and beautiful Cameron.

  19. Jañe your mom was always happy and laughing when I would see her. I know she is the brightest star in the sky. Peace be with you.
    Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

    Love you

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Sign the Guestbook