Obituaries John William Wilkerson

John William Wilkerson


JOPLIN, Mo. — John William Wilkerson, Galena, died Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at Mercy Hospital, Joplin, Mo., following a long bout with prostate cancer. He was 75.

John was born July 4, 1947 in Galena, where he lived the majority of his life. His parents were Ray and Mary Ellen (Moody) Wilkerson.

He graduated with the Galena High School Class of 1965, then served in the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1971. John then went to MSSU and received a Bachelor of Science in Education, to teach and coach. Later in his career, he earned a master’s degree in educational leadership to become an administrator.

Most of John’s professional career was spent as a high school teacher and football coach at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School, but he spent several years as a principal at Southeast Schools, Cherokee, where he retired in 2009. Following his retirement, he continued to coach football for the Joplin Crusaders, Northeast High School, and finally McAuley Catholic High School.

He was a member of the First Christian Church, Galena. John was married to Melinda V. Snowden June 12, 1967, in Galena. She survives.

He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Jerry Wilkerson.

Along with his wife, other survivors include two sons, Brent Wilkerson (Barb), Carl Junction, Mo., and Jeff Wilkerson (Briana), Lawrence; one daughter, Johnna Stringer (Aaron), Galena; two sisters, Barbara Kent and Shirley Watkins, both of Galena; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild, who affectionately called him Papa John.

A visitation will be held 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, July 30, at First Christian Church, Galena. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. In honor of John’s love for coaching and sports, those attending are encouraged to wear a football jersey, or their favorite team gear as we come together to celebrate his life.

Memorial contributions may be made to MD Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486,

Condolences may be left at

Derfelt Funeral Home, Galena, is in charge of arrangements.

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