AHWAHNEE – The nonprofit women’s group Helping One Woman (HOW) is meeting on Wednesday, July 17, at the Hitching Post Restaurant to honor Coarsegold resident Heather Wilbour. The evening of food, fundraising and friendship begins at 6 p.m.
Heather’s husband Shawn “Wilby” Wilhour died following a heart attack while on vacation at Redinger Lake the day before Father’s Day.
“I feel blessed to have known him,” says Heather, “and I’m heartbroken that I lost my best friend.”
The Wilbours have two children, seven-year-old Noah and Matthew, who is almost five. Father’s Day weekend the family and close friends got together at Redinger Lake and spent the day wake boarding. Wilby was a carpenter all his life, and had grown up surfing the beaches in southern California.
Late in the afternoon before dinner, according to Heather, Wilby had just come off the wakeboard and was wrapping up lines, still excited about being out on the lake. Heather and Noah were on the shore about 300 feet from the boat. She says her husband did a little happy dance and with a smile on his face, said he felt like he was “back in my surfing days again.”
It was then he was struck by what turned out to be a massive heart attack. Despite intense rescue efforts by his friends on the boat, and tireless lifesaving maneuvers by Heather herself, and an ambulance crew that arrived later at the dock, beloved husband, dad and friend Wilby was gone.
Heather says at one point during the emergency she felt her husband “speak” to her through his eyes, saying, “I’m sorry this is happening. I have to go now.” Wilby was 46.
Later reports showed Wilby suffered from heart disease, hypertension and arteriosclerosis.
His sudden passing left those closest to him stunned, and their loss affects the community deeply.
Naturally grieving the tragic absence of her husband, Heather feels fortunate to have been married to Wilby and grateful for the outpouring of sympathy from people around the mountain area and beyond.
“I am blessed and I continue to feel his blessings,” Heather says of her husband, glad for what she calls the beautiful foundation of their marriage together. “It’s amazing how a soul can connect to another so passionately.”
The man called “Wilby” by friends had another nickname at work: he was known as “The Big Deal.”
Heather is starting The Big Deal ministry to spread love and food to those in need throughout Coarsegold and wherever else it takes her. She wants to keep her Wilby’s legacy of love and friendship going.
To attend the HOW dinner in support of Heather Wilbour, call the Hitching Post directly. Each guest pays a flat fee for her own dinner and also donates $10 to the “pot.” After dinner the pooled money is gifted to the honoree. Another woman is then chosen, from written suggestions of the guests, for the next month’s dinner.
HOW meets monthly for an uplifting evening in honor of one deserving woman who receives the community’s support when they need it the most.
The Hitching Post is located at 42592 Highway 49 in Ahwahnee. Phone (559) 683-7917.