INDEPENDENCE – Wilda Narlene (Leathers) Britton, 79, died Monday, January 24, surrounded by her family at Research Medical Center after a tenacious battle with pancreatic cancer. Wilda was born in Fairbury, Illinois on October 13, 1942, to John and Olive (Pifer) Leathers. Siblings Otis, David, James, Linda and Bobby followed soon after their big sister. Wilda was a graduate of Dwight Township High School’s class of 1960. Later that year — with her enrollment at Illinois State Normal University — she became the first member of her family to attend college at the age of 17. The summer after her sophomore year Wilda made a fateful decision to attend the Community of Christ reunion with her friend MarJean (Britton) Shute. There Wilda met MarJean’s older brother Wayne. They were engaged shortly after. Wilda and Wayne were married in 1963 at the Community of Christ Church in Aurora, Illinois. Wilda and Wayne welcomed their first daughter Kelly Britton in 1965 and their daughter Michelle in 1967. After a handful of years in Wisconsin and Oregon, the family moved to South Portland, Maine. Here Wilda raised her children, decorated and designed her first true family home and finished her degree in elementary education at the University of Southern Maine. Wilda’s professional life was spent working in banking and for the Community of Christ Church. Wilda and Wayne moved to Washington, D.C. in 1991. With the birth of her granddaughters Meg and Katie Britton-Mehlisch in the late 90s, Wilda decided it was time to head back to the Midwest. In 1999, the couple packed up the D.C. house and settled in Independence, Missouri. When it comes to grandmothers, there is no contest. Wilda was the epitome of grandmotherly love. She taught Meg and Katie how to cook, sew and become mean card sharks. She was endlessly proud of them. Her love for family was boundless. She quickly adopted her Britton family. When her daughter Michelle married Scott Mehlisch in 1989, she gained a son and two lifelong friends in his parents. She was quick to hug and smile. An expert seamstress and quilter, Wilda put her creative talents to use making gifts for her loved ones: sewing wedding dresses, upholstering furniture and making an army of Raggedy Anne and Andys. Wilda was an avid traveler. She visited every state in the United States and four continents. She especially loved the National Park Service. Wilda is preceded in death by her father, mother and youngest brother Bobby Leathers. Wilda is survived by her husband of 58 years and soulmate, Wayne Britton of Independence, Missouri; her daughter Kelly Britton of Laveen, Arizona; her daughter and son Dr. Michelle and Scott Britton-Mehlisch of Lee’s Summit, Missouri; her granddaughter Meg Britton-Mehlisch of Pittsfield, Massachusetts; and her granddaughter Katie Britton-Mehlisch of Kansas City, Missouri. A long list of siblings, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews will hold her in their hearts forever. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in the spring. In lieu of flowers, tribute donations can be made to the National Parks Foundation at give.nationalparks.org. The family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Jaswinder Singh and his team at the Sarah Cannon Center at Research Medical Center for their devoted care.