Nancy Wilkman, who served as editor of Documentary magazine (then called International Documentary) for 16 issues through the early 1990s, passed away on April 3 at age 72.. She had struggled with cancer.
In addition to her work with the magazine, Wilkman carved out a distinguished career in journalism, communications and, over the past 30 years, in collaboration with her husband, former IDA Board President Jon Wilkman, documentary filmmaking. She served as writer, producer and/or story editor on nearly all of Wilkman Productions' television programs, which aired on PBS, HBO, A&E and The History Channel. She earned an Emmy nomination for her writing on the Los Angeles History Project. And she and her husband co-authored the illustrated history of Los Angeles, Picturing Los Angeles.
On a personal note, it was actually the Wilkmans who introduced me to IDA (and my wife who introduced me to the Wilkmans) when they took me on to write a grant proposal. And although I fell out of touch with them in the past decade--except in 2002, when Jon penned an essay for IDA's
20th anniversary celebrations, and in 2010, when we published a piece on Jon's Moguls and Movie Stars series--I will always be grateful for their opening the door to a long and wondrous journey through the world of IDA..
Here are excerpts from the obituary that appeared in the Los Angeles Times:
It was a beautiful morning, sunny and clear. In her home overlooking a tree-filled canyon, with a deck bordered by flower boxes, and the air alive with the call and swoop of the birds she loved to watch, Nancy Zitlau Wilkman, beloved mother, grandmother, wife and award-winning writer, died peacefully in her sleep, age 72, at the end of a brave struggle with cancer.
Born in Ajo, Arizona, Nancy was raised in San Diego. She went to the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Master's Degree in History. After graduation, Nancy went to work for the Rand Corporation as a researcher. She married editor, writer and educator Larry Meyer and the couple had three sons, Eric, Karl and Kurt. During this busy time as a mom, she maintained a career as a travel writer, book editor and multi-media producer, winning awards for her work.
After a divorce, Nancy met and married documentary filmmaker Jon Wilkman. Beginning in 1980, the pair became an inseparable team--"joined at the hip," friends would marvel. Nancy and Jon joined forces on documentaries for KCET, PBS, HBO, the History Channel, and many major corporations and educational and nonprofit institutions. One year she was nominated against her husband for a Los Angeles Emmy award for nonfiction writing. ‟I let him win," she liked to say. On her own, Nancy was a valued communications consultant to American Honda for almost 30 years.
Sharing with her husband an enthusiasm for local history, the pair co-authored the books Picturing Los Angeles and Los Angeles: A Pictorial Celebration. But in the end, with all her professional accomplishments and worldwide adventures, Nancy was most proud to be a mother to her three sons, and a doting grandmother to Dane, Makana, Cane and Magnus. Far from gone, Nancy will live forever in the memories of her loving family and many friends.