Obituary of Demaris Jane (Wilkinson) Arnold
Demaris Jane (Wilkinson) Arnold, 93, of Salem, Illinois, passed away on Saturday, August 6,
2022, at SSM St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia, IL, following a brief illness.
She was born April, 16, 1929, in Central City, IL, the second child and only daughter of Roy C.
and Opha May (Wedding) Wilkinson. She was a 1947 graduate of Centralia High School,
starting school at age 4 and graduating when she was just barely 17. She worked for one year
at Byrd-Watson’s Drug Store before beginning her 42 year career with Illinois Bell Telephone
Company (and, later, AT&T) in Centralia, IL. She began as a switchboard operator, and later
worked in the Dial Services Department, and Business Offices in both Salem and Mt. Vernon.
She was a member of the Telephone Pioneers, who performed charitable work in the local
communities. She retired in 1990, and enjoyed 32 years of traveling, reading, and making
memories with her family and friends.
On December 17, 1948, Demaris was united in marriage to Robert Q. “Bob” Arnold, Jr., and
three children were born to this union. They divorced in 1979. Demaris was a role model for
strong, independent women, and lived by two rules; 1) Love yourself first, and 2) Be happy with
your own company and you will never be lonely. She was smart, witty, loved a great joke, and
was a fan of Big Band and Classical music, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball. She will be greatly
missed by all who knew and loved her.
Demaris is survived by her three children: Robert Douglas “Doug” Arnold and wife, Diane, of
Odin; Susan Diane Sechrest and husband, Jack, of Belleville; and John David Arnold and wife,
Tonya, of Salem. Grandchildren: Mike Arnold (Aven Ray); Grant (Stacey) Arnold; Step-
Grandchildren: Sydney (Travis) Hawkins; Atlee Hargis (Rachel Fedders); Jessica (Bryan) Harless;
Katie (Tom) Talmadge; and Neil (Yuri) Sechrest. Great-grandchildren and Step-Great-
Grandchildren: Sophie Frieman, Madelyn and William Arnold; Allison, Spencer, Owen and
Keegan Hawkins; Kohen, Adeline and Eloise Talmadge; Violet and Oliver Harless; and Shawn and
Max Sechrest. Also surviving are her niece, Carolyn (Morris) Hill, of Texas City, TX, and her
lifelong friend, Helen Uhls (Glenn Green), of Greenville, IL.
She was preceded in death by her parents, brother and sister-in-law, Ray and Dee (Shields)
Wilkinson, and ex-husband Robert Q. “Bob” Arnold, Jr.
There will be no visitation, and graveside services will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2022,
at 11:00am, at Evergreen Cemetery in Kinmundy, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations to the
Evergreen Cemetery will be accepted at Crouse Funeral Home in Salem, IL.
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