Brenda Joyce Prater Wilkinson
(August 28, 1943 -April 17 ,2022)
Brenda Joyce Prater Wilkinson passed away at Adventhealth Hospital Hospice in Orlando, FLh early Easter morning. She was born in Goodloe, KY in Floyd County, the daughter of Earnest Prater and Alice Stephens Prater. The Praters were a farming and coal mining family of 5 daughters and 4 sons. Brenda was a graduate of Maytown High School class of 1961. She furthered her education at Pikeville College and in 1965, she moved to Pahokee, FL to embark on her career path as an educator and day care center owner and operator.
Brenda is survived by 3 sons whom she loved dearly: Craig Wilkinson of Orlando, FL (her caregiver since her late 2018 fall resulting in a traumatic brain injury); Brian Wilkinson of Vero, FL; and Kevin Wilkinson of Prestonsburg, KY. Brenda also has a grand-daughter, Maria, whom she loved and cherished that is the daughter of her son Brian and his wife, Ingrid. Brenda’s siblings still living are sisters: Peggy Hopkins of College Station, Texas; Bonnie Ousley of Langley, KY; Phyllis Dotson of Prestonsburg, KY; and brothers, Ralph Prater of Hamden, OH; and Michael Prater of Goodloe, KY.
Brenda moved to Palm Beach County in 1968 where she soon completed her Associates Degree in Education at Palm Beach Junior College and began teaching at Lincoln Elementary School. Brenda’s strong desire to better herself and to educate others would lead her to earning a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education at Florida Atlantic University in the early 1970’s. She then became a school teacher at both St. Juliana’s Catholic School and St. Luke’s Catholic School. She also made time to be both a cub scout den mother and a T-ball mom. Brenda’s love for animals resulted in the adoption of many cats, dogs and even birds that shared her home.
In 1979, Brenda’s commitment to provide a safe, educational environment for toddlers and pre-school children came to fruition when she opened Brenda’s Small World Day Care Center in West Palm Beach, FL. For two decades she set the industry standards of care in the state of Florida by raising the standards for day care centers requiring centers to provide more than custodial care. Brenda advocated for the implementation of a unified set of regulations meeting state care standards of both schools and day care centers which was adopted by Florida lawmakers and required for day care centers to be licensed for operation. She believed in empowering her employees with job training and educational resources to help them reach their highest potential and provided them with wages above the industry average. She established a healthy and educational environment at each of her facilities benefitting the children, staff, and parents.
Brenda later moved to Sebastian, FL for another decade working as an independent caregiver for aging seniors in their end-of-life process. Finally, she moved to Melbourne, FL where she worked passionately as the leasing consultant at Crane Creek Senior Apartments, an affordable independent living community where again she thrived and brought her love and compassion to residents and co-workers alike.
Her life legacy will always be the unconditional love she displayed to her children and to all the lives she touched, educated, empowered and changed for the better. Brenda encouraged people to be their authentic selves and she helped them reach their true potential. She helped family, friends, children, parents of children, co-workers and many strangers along the way. Brenda is the shining example of what a little mountain girl can accomplish with love, determination, compassion and conviction. Through all life’s challenges she endured. Brenda paved her own way here on earth. We know she is rejoicing with family that has gone before her: parents, Earnest and Alice Prater; brothers, Wayne Prater and Curtis Prater Sr; sister, Ina Jean Nelson; and brother-in Law, Gary Ousley.
Although Brenda lived in Florida for 55 years, the hills of Kentucky never left her soul and in her heart she always dreamed of coming home to Goodloe,KY. A celebration of life will be held in Goodloe, KY later this summer which was her favorite time in the mountains that she has always considered home. Brenda, you will be sadly missed and forever loved.