Danville Express

Living - January 12, 2007

Postal worker - in life and death

Last resident of little houses on Front Street dies at 89

by Jordan M. Doronila

Mrs. Emmit Siddons proudly wore her white blouse, blue pants and sweater covering a blue eagle. Even as she lay inside a white coffin with her eyes closed, she continued wearing the uniform from when she worked at the Danville post office for 43 years.

Wilma Anita Siddons' family members mourned her death and put white roses into her casket to honor her life at her funeral service at the Wilson and Kratzer Chapel of San Ramon Valley in Danville last week. About 20 family members and friends attended the service Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Siddons, 89, passed away Dec. 26. Her grandniece Jeri Eresman - who had taken care of her for the last three years at her home in Modesto - cried at the service, while sharing memories of her aunt.

"She was like a mother to me," Eresman said. "I loved her. She could be very harsh, but you know what she said she meant."

"She never gave up her roots in Danville," she added.

At the service, Pastor Roger Kuehn of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Antioch gave Wilma's eulogy. He talked about how God knew Wilma first, created her out of "His" love for her and sent her down on earth. Now, she is returning to God.

After he finished, he invited the family and friends to speak.

"Wilma was a great friend," recalled an old acquaintance. "She stepped out of life to be 'Wilma.'"

Then, Siddons' loved ones drove in their cars, escorted by police, to the little old white house on Front Street where she lived for many years and adorned it with a flower arrangement. She lived in the Front Street home for 63 years, next to the Danville Public Library. Next, the mourners assembled to bury her in the rugged hills of the historic Alamo Cemetery.

Wilma Siddons was born Feb. 8, 1917, in Kadoka, S.D. She worked at the Danville post office for 43 years, watching the town grow from a small farming community into a suburb saturated with homes, families and children.

She retired from the U.S. Postal Service on Dec. 31, 1992, to take care of her sister, who was Eresman's grandmother.

Even after retirement, she continued to wear her uniform.

"She wasn't ready to retire," said Eresman.

During World War II, Wilma was a lookout on Mount Diablo, which entailed enemy plane spotting and reminding people they needed to keep their lights down and their shades drawn for the blackout.

She enjoyed reading romance novels, and her favorite television shows were the Lawrence Welk Show on Saturday nights and the religious TV program "It is Written" on Sunday mornings.

When she was young, Wilma worked as a maid for awhile and was proud that she was able to continue her education and graduate from high school at a time in the 1930s when many only attended school through the eighth grade.

She worked at a food bank during the Great Depression and became upset when she saw judges and lawyers take food first, because they all had jobs. Moreover, she never trusted a bank because if it folded, she would lose her savings. She was frugal throughout her life and saved many things, Eresman said.

Wilma married Emmit Siddons on June 12, 1943, and although the union did not result in children, they remained side by side until his death April 3, 1962. Even after his death, she wanted to be known as Mrs. Emmit Siddons.

"She never gave up on that name," Eresman said. "She loved him."

She is survived by her niece, Georgia Whitney of Newark; and her grandniece, Jeri Eresman.


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