By Faye Gaston
In memory of Janet Susan Wilkerson, The Red Door Theatre committee reports: "One of the brightest lights of the Red Door Theatre dimmed on January 2, 2020 (death of Janet Wilkerson, age 57).
Janet Wilkerson could walk on the stage, and before she said a word, the audiences would start laughing. They knew she was going to bring joy and happiness into their lives. In eleven years, Janet performed in 16 productions at the Red Door.
There was a time when we were concerned that our guests would tire of seeing her so frequently---but we quickly realized there was no "too much" when it came to Janet. Our hearts ache at her passing, at our loss. Many tributes have been written (on Facebook) to Janet in the last few days, and each is poignant, often funny (it's hard not to be when you are writing about her), and all are loving."
Midge Putnam, Executive Director of the Tourism Council of Bullock County said, "Janet was a star on stage at the Red Door Theatre. We are left with her memories and lots of laughs."
Charity Smith wrote on Facebook: "Better known by my family as The Snuff Lady because she did an hysterical bit with a can of snuff in this play (Conecuh People). The scene in Conecuh People I remember most was Janet being super hysterical while a woman told the story of her husband being killed.
Making people laugh was what she did best. She did it on and off the stage. It was always a promised good time to be around her.
"If you never met Janet, you never met the funniest spit ball of fire to grace the small town of Union Springs or the stage of Red Door. It's still a hard thing to grasp that her time on stage and her time on earth is over, but we will remember her for the way she changed hearts of sadness to joy so many times. Until the time comes for us to meet again, enjoy God's sense of humor for me, dearest Janet."
Leigh Moorer performed in several plays with Janet. She said, "In Janet's passing away, I have lost a real friend. She was a great actress. She brought her own style. When a play was advertised, people would often ask if Janet Wilkerson was in it. She was "real." She was naturally funny, just being Janet. She was an entertaining person.
Janet's son, Travin Wilkerson, was in two plays with her.." Leigh and Janet were M.C.'s at Conecuh Springs Christian School (CSCS) for a fundraiser for the Bullock County Humane Society, featuring twelve Bullock County men pictured in a calendar with pets.
Leigh, Janet and Kim Graham performed in "Hee Haw", a fundraiser for CSCS. Kim performed in several plays with Janet at the Red Door also.
Kim Graham said, "Janet was hilarious. She spoke with a wonderful Southern accent. She was known as an actress, comedienne, butcher and florist.
She sold meat at the Blue's Old Stand Store, including rib eye, bologna, hoop cheese and sauce. When the store closed, she sold meat at Adams Pecans, and made flower arrangements of silk and real flowers at Adams Florist.
There is an art to arranging flowers and her arrangements were excellent. She loved plants." Janet was a member of Inverness Baptist Church.
Her pastor, Reverend David Stewart, officiated her funeral service in the chapel of Green Hill's Funeral Home in Troy, Alabama on January 5, 2020.
He compared Janet with Ruth in the Bible, as both being "a comforting spirit." As Ruth was comforting to her mother-in-law Naomi, Janet was comforting to friends and family. His text was Ruth 1:16-17.
He said, "She was a Christian. Her faith saved her. She made flower arrangements in front of and surrounding the altar table in church. She kept a shovel in the trunk of her car so that she could dig up plants she liked from the side of the road.
One Resurrection Day (Easter) she dressed as Mary, the mother of Jesus, and performed a monologue that was "off the wall great."
She had a wooden cross in her kitchen that she made with her grandchildren. She was devoted to them and when they visited her she brought them to church. Her grandchildren gave her the nickname, "Kinnie."
Her survivors include: husband, Thomas E. Wilkerson, Jr. of Ariton, Alabama; son and daughter-in-law, Devon and Jennifer Wilkerson of Ariton; son, Travin Wilkerson of Panama City, Florida; grandchildren, Ethan Thomas Wilkerson and Tyler Dabney Wilkerson and Jaylin Gunter Wilkerson; sister, Patricia Dawkins Cole; and nephews, Matt Green and Jason Finch.