From the hills of West Virginia to the mountains of Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE – To most, Karen Wilkinson may seem like just another face in the crowd, but this is one woman who stands above the rest.
In the 15 years she has lived in Summit County, Wilkinson has become a wife, mother, triathlete, backcountry skier and friend to many.
“My mother sent me out here to be a ski bum for one season, and I’ve been here ever since,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson grew up in Wheeling, W. Va., where she spent her formative years at The Hall School, a boarding school in Pittsfield, Mass.
“My family was all about boarding school, which was fine with me,” WIlkinson said. “I got to travel to New York City, Boston and France to ski the Alps.”
After receiving her diploma from Hall, Wilkinson attended and graduated from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, before becoming a permanent resident of Breckenridge.
Wilkinson, who has been married for 11 years to Steve Wilkinson, a UPS driver, gets a lot of her advice on marriage from her family.
“My parents have been married for 43 years, and they have such a wonderful relationship. I look at them, and I see the love they have for each other and pray that my marriage will be like theirs, full of fun and love.”
Wilkinson’s maiden name, Bloch, has quite the reputation in her hometown of Wheeling.
Her father, Stuart Fulton Bloch, was President of the United States Golf Association from 1992-94. He had the honor of congratulating Ernie Els, Tom Kite and Fred Couples during those years.
Today, Stuart Bloch is a very successful and well-respected businessman in Wheeling.
Wilkinson’s mother, Stephanie Bloch, is also a very important member of her community. She is a member of the College of Creative Arts Board of Visitors in West Virginia and has given much of her time to the college.
Although Wilkinson doesn’t believe she has the business savvy her family does, she does believe she inherited her ethics and high morals from them.
“My family started Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco in 1879, and it turned out to be the most well-known chewing tobacco in the first half of the 20th century,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson’s great-great-grandfather, Samuel S. Bloch, and his brother Aaron were co-founders of Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company, and together they conceived a product, “Mail Pouch,” which made them pioneers in the chewing tobacco industry. Bloch Bros. became – and was for many years – the largest manufacturer of this type of tobacco in the U.S.
If you grew up in the East or Midwest, you may have seen Mail Pouch ads painted on the sides of barns while taking a drive in the country.
Harley Warrick spent 50 years painting Mail Pouch Tobacco signs on roadside barns.
When the federal Highway Beautification Act was enacted in 1965, billboards near federal highways were outlawed. But an exception was made for the Mail Pouch signs, which were made federal landmarks. The Smithsonian even commissioned one for the 1968 World’s Fair.
Today, Wilkinson has a new career of her own – raising two sons. She and her husband have their hands full with Robert, 5, and Morgan, 2, and recently celebrated their 11-year anniversary by treating themselves to a heli-skiing vacation in British Columbia.
“I know I have a great life,” Wilkinson said. “I have the best husband any woman could ask for. I have two beautiful, healthy kids, a supportive family and caring friends. My job now is making sure that my children grow up to be well-adjusted, nice, young men.”
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