Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Andrea Wilke

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If you've stopped in the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce on the Square, then you'll recognize Andrea Wilke.

Wilke has been with the Chamber for more than 13 years and in 2015 was promoted to vice president of operations - a role she cherishes.

"My position at the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce is challenging but rewarding. I enjoy meeting and networking with the public. No day is ever the same, and there is never a dull day," she said.

"People call the Chamber for everything, such as, 'Can you come and get these skunks out from under my house?' and 'Can you give me directions to England?'" Wilke recounted. "No matter what the question, we always answer with a smile."

Wilke said she works with a great team of ladies and enjoys knowing that they have made a difference to an individual or a business.

"By supporting and promoting businesses, all of Wilson County prospers," she added.

Wilke was born in Dyersburg but was moved to Lebanon as an infant.

"When I was born, times were different for unwed mothers. I lived with my mom, but mostly my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles," she said.

Over the years, Wilke developed a relationship with her father and reported that they now speak daily.

"In 2014 I was blessed to begin a new journey - a relationship with my daddy. We now talk almost every day, bringing new family members, including a sister that I never had," she said. "The hard part now is the miles between us."

When she isn't working, Wilke enjoys time with her family. She is married to Perry Wilke and will celebrate their 15th anniversary this November.

The couple dated for two years before Perry proposed in a unique way that complimented his German heritage.

"Unknown to me, he had asked my daughter Nicole's permission first. Then he had a dirndl for me to wear with a sweet note saying we were going to a Polka festival in Nashville," Wilke said. "I was very apprehensive but dressed for the evening. We parked, he flagged the horse and carriage but we went to the Old Heidelberg and walked in. We were treated like royalty. They were catering to our every need."

When dessert was served, Wilke looked to see her ring on the cake and Perry down on one knee to propose.

Wilke said her life's greatest gifts have been her children and grandchildren.

"My children along with their families live in Lebanon," she said, naming son, Jimmy and his wife, Sierra and son Gavin and her daughter, Nicole, husband Steven and daughter, Layla. "Shane, my 16-year-old grandson has lived with Perry and I since the age of 8."

She added that Nicole and Steven are expecting a second child in January 2017.

Other activities include attending services at Berea Church of Christ and serving on the board of the Wilson County Fair. Wilke is a grade of Leadership Wilson and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Executives Institute.

She has served on United Way Allocations, Habitat for Humanity of Wilson County and as Secretary for Boy Scout Troop 302.

Wilke admires several women and explained how each of them impacted her life.

"My relationship with my mother over the years has been challenging at times, but this has given me strengths needed to rise above situations and make better choices," Wilke said.

"My grandmother, Thelma Crutcher, and great-grandmother, Ruby Crutcher, were both very special to me. Both were Christian women, very loving, caring and family-oriented. Both taught me to be a Christian lady first, and always show traditional southern values and morals."

Wilke said her Aunt Mary "always seems to be there for me when I felt I had no one" and her "Mama Carole" has proven to be one of the strongest, kindest women she's met.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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