*Wilda Herndon

Herndon, Wilda

Wilda Herndon, a long-time resident of Champaign-Urbana, was born in 1913 in Okolona, Mississippi. She is the fourth of five children born to Joe and Susie Hursey White Herndon. Her mother and siblings came to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in the mid-twenties. The children were enrolled in school and Wilda graduated from Champaign High School.

As a young adult, Wilda became a member of the Bethel A.M.E. Church and served in many capacities. Her love of community and the people therein are what led to her involvement in many clubs and organizations whose prime objective was to serve those in need. Funds were raised and distributed to areas such as the Burnham City Hospital, the March of Dimes, Cancer Fund, and the Bethel A.M.E. Fund. She served as Founder’s Day and Women’s Day chairperson, and she has been a narrator for several church functions. She was a steward before being promoted to steward-emeritus. She was also a member of the Calendar Club and the Fleur de Lis. In 1953, Ms. Herndon was named Church Woman of the Year. She was also crowned queen of the 4th District of the African American Methodist Episcopal Church. She also volunteered as a "Gray Lady" for the American Red Cross and as Med Tech at the Frances Nelson Health Center.

It was her desire to become a registered nurse, but circumstances prevented that from happening, so through the encouragement of Dr. Max Appel, Pathologist at Burnham Hospital, she began on-the-job training for Medical Technicians. She seized the opportunity, and with this training, she was employed as a Medical Technician at the University of Illinois McKinley Hospital and the College of Vet Medicine's Small Animal Clinic where she remained for 19 years, until retirement. She was also the first lab technician hired at the Frances Nelson Health Center, and volunteered at Carle Hospital for ten years.

She has been heavily involved in community activities, including organizing the Royalettes, a club of civic-minded women dedicated to serving both the black and white communities, Vice President of the local chapter of the NAACP, board member of the Champaign Urbana Kindergarden, and work with the League of Women Voters.

An * next to the name within bio denotes original charter members of the Champaign County Section of the National Council of Negro Women.