Our friend and board member Ginger Wilhelmi passed away on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, after battling ovarian cancer for many years. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her daughter Rachel Austin Bernstein, her family, and her friends. We are grateful for Ginger and her support of Playwrights’ Center. And her absence is deeply felt.
Playwrights’ Center board member Harry Waters Jr. shared, “Ginger was a true lover and supporter of the arts. As an awesome human being, her outspoken honesty was one of the most welcome assets she brought to us at PWC. When there was a question to be asked, her voice was there. She held no judgments. She had opinions, for sure. And she heard you.”
Affiliated writer Jessica Huang reflected, “Ginger was a lover of theater, a lover of what existed, and a lover of what was to be; new work in its many awkward and beautiful phases. When we lost Ginger, we lost an intellect and a heart that loved this form so much she couldn’t help but improve it. She attended everything, donated generously, and lent her expertise and experience to the Playwrights’ Center board. And I personally am so grateful to have also received her insight on new plays I was/am making. She was honest—she told me what she loved and what she didn’t. She was brilliant—her feedback was always crystal clear, well-argued, with examples, and true. And mostly she was an advocate for stories, organizations, and artists like me. What she gave is immeasurable. She will be so terribly missed.”
Ginger joined our board in 2018, after being an audience member for some time. She brought her years of experience as a CPA in Dallas, TX to the Center, serving on the board’s Finance Committee.
“Ginger came to everything we did. A true supporter” commented managing director Robert Chelimsky. “She was so excited about our upcoming projects. And she was deeply passionate about her work.”
“She was a sage supporter and tremendous asset on our finance committee,” he continued. “I remember one of my first meetings with Ginger. As we did a deep dive into our finances, I was amazed by how clearly she grasped the intersection of dollars and mission. She was instrumental in our transition to long-term planning and setting us up for success in the future.”
In addition to her support of the arts, she raised awareness of Ovarian Cancer. She was diagnosed with low-grade ovarian cancer in 2003, shortly after her 50th birthday when her daughter was starting her Junior year of high school. After a 2nd recurrence and completing a clinical trial at MD Anderson in 2011, she retired, and in 2015 moved to Minnesota to be closer to her daughter. She continued to raise awareness, as seen in this interview with KSTP in September 2020.
For people wishing to honor Ginger, memorials may be made to Springboard for the Arts and Playwrights' Center. The family wishes to thank MD Anderson Cancer Center, especially Dr. Charles Levenback and his team, for the excellent care they provided that allowed us so much time with Ginger.
A memorial service will be held via Zoom on Sunday, March 14th at 2:00 pm CDT, followed by a Celebration of Life in Texas in the fall. For the Zoom link, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.