CASTLETON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Our final “Remarkable Woman” nominee is known throughout her community for her helping nature. Helping others is something Carol Wilkinson has always wanted to do, inspiring her to become a nurse. But along the way, she also unknowingly became a pioneer.

“I didn’t even realize that I was a pioneer at the time! I just knew that it was something I really wanted to do.”

What she really wanted to do was put her nursing skills to use on the Castleton Ambulance Squad, which had no women as members in 1977. Her application letter is still a part of the squad’s historic archive.

“It was only until I was refused a couple of times that I realized I was a pioneer,” Wilkinson recalled, “and the first woman to be on the ambulance and that was kind of exciting.”

The ambulance members were like family, but in his “Remarkable Women” nomination letter, Wilkinson’s son Craig said that, throughout the years, she treated her entire community as a family. Craig wrote, “My mother was a nurse and soon became the ‘village’ nurse in Castleton.”

She covered calls on the ambulance squad while working at the hospital and later for hospice, plus volunteering at her church and with Kiwanis fundraisers. But Craig remembers that she never forgot her own family of seven kids.

“The most remarkable thing to us kids,” Craig marveled, “was that while growing up she didn’t miss a single game, play ceremony, special event, or dance recital that her children were in.”

“That’s what I have to give,” Wilkinson reflected, “I can give a lot of love, give myself. We didn’t have a lot of money to give to charities so that was my way of giving back to the community.”

Her way of giving back includes encouraging others. “I did get my nurse friends to come help, to come join,” she chuckled. “Even though I was that pioneer it was nice to have another woman on.”

And the ambulance family grew with Craig, as well. His mom pressed him into service when there was an accident across from their home. “We went to the scene and she told me what to do put your hands here, hold that, do not move until the ambulance gets here and somebody relieves you,” he remembered. “She went on to do things with the other person in the car and I just got hooked after that.”

At 86, Wilkinson is now a grandmother of 16 and a great-grandmother of five. Her lifetime of service is an inspiration to her family and town, and they don’t see her stopping yet. “I would encourage more people to do that,” she shared. “It gives you such a warm feeling to be able to give back to your community.”

Craig read the end of his nomination letter for NEWS10: “You can go anywhere and they will know who Carol Wilkinson is. And when you mention her name they will smile, because they know how special she is. She is the woman who has been taking care of the Castleton/Schodack people for over 60 years.”