Wilma Mullis touched lives with her spirit, faith

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not even in jest was Wilma’s Beauty Salon ever called a gossip parlor.

“Wilma” would not have put up with such a thing.

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She had a deep and abiding faith and her customers and employees knew and respected that. They honored Wilma.

Wilma Mullis’ death on Wednesday touched many lives just as she touched many lives with her spirit and influenced many lives with her faith.

“I can’t imagine going to Wilma’s without Wilma,” said Sara Bowden, who knew Wilma and her husband, James, when they were first married and ran a hotel in Troy. “Everything at the beauty shop had something to do with Wilma,” Bowden said. “We all looked forward to her coming in and visiting with us. Wilma had such a deep faith and she would share it with us. There was no gossiping at Wilma’s.”

Wilma kept a Bible at her beauty shop and it was often put to use.

“Wilma loved to talk about spiritual things,” Bowden said. “Many times, we would go to the Bible to look up something we weren’t sure about. It was a wonderful experience to share a part of your life with Wilma. She made us beautiful on the inside and tried to make us pretty on the outside. Like so many people, I loved her and I will miss her terribly.”

Perhaps no one knows a person better than those who work with them on a daily basis and over a long period of time.

Wilma Mullis had the ability to hire employees and keep them “forever.”

Joyce Austin has worked at Wilma’s Beauty Salon for 43 years.

“When Wilma hired me, she told me that I would have a job as long as I wanted it,” Austin said.

But “wanting it” meant doing the job and doing it right and, if not, the buck stopped with the boss.

“Wilma said that she wouldn’t fire me but she could make it so hard that I’d quit,” Austin said, laughing. “When Wilma spoke, you listened. She would call your hand on things. She could chew you up and spit you out and, when she got through, you’d want to say, ‘thank you, ma’am, and I love you.’ She was that kind of person.”

Austin said Mullis had a heart of gold and a big heart for everybody.

“She loved everybody in spite of themselves. She was a friend to everybody. A real, true friend.”

Barbara Barron has worked at Wilma’s for 37 years. She said Mullis could be stern, but she was happy most all of the time.

“She could make you laugh because you never knew what she was going to say,” said Shirley Edwards. “I worked for Wilma for 22 years and you just never know what she was going to come up with. She was a pleasure to work for.”

Ginger Owens worked for Mullis off and on for 20 years and learned to appreciate her spirit.

“When you met Wilma, you never forgot her,” she said.

Not many people have the ability to make others feel good about themselves.

“But Wilma did,” said Jo Leverette. “Like Joyce, I worked for her for 43 years. No matter what you were feeling about yourself, Wilma could make you feel better. She was a wonderful employer and friend. She was fair and she treated everybody the same. She made no difference in any of us.”

Wilma’s “girls” all said that she was a mentor to them.

“Every one of us looked up to her,” Austin said and added, laughing, that Mullis had everybody’s respect “because she was going to get it.”

Wilma Mullis had a way of making her way into the hearts of all who knew her.

“Once she found a place in your heart, she never left,” Austin said. “She will not be forgotten and nobody will ever take her place.”