I was born in Manhattan, New York City in 1943 -- the first child of immigrant parents. I am a traditional storyteller who first learned my art (in Hungarian as a pre-schooler) from Emilia Sipos Wilhelm, my Hungarian grandmother. Later (in elementary school), in English from Valeria Norisova Wilhelm, my Slovak mother.
My Master's is in Education (1971), and my Doctorate is in Storytelling as a Performing Art (1976) I have taught pre-school, elementary school, college, and graduate school. I also established a specialty travel company with my wife, Mary Jo Kelly Wilhelm (1981) and a proessional school of storytelling (1994).
I am from that first-generation of the "storytelling revival" in North America dating from the late 1960s through the mid 1970s. Along with my colleagues we brought back an art that scholars pronounced as dead! In particular, I honor the art of Jackie Torrence, Gioia Timpanelli, Diane Wolkstein, Joan Bodger, Brother Blue, Jay O’Callaghan — all master storytellers, friends and colleagues.
Finally, I am grateful to my gifted teachers who have guided me on the path to tell stories authentically as part of my spiritual journey. Though I am a Catholic Christian, I am blessed in that all my teachers were from other traditions. I remain faithful to their teachings:
Wayne R.Rood, a Seventh-Day Baptist educator and dramatist in California; Jorge Rosner, a Secular Jew and Gestalt Therapist in Canada; and Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, physician and Orthodox priest in England.
I am married (for 49 years) to Dr. Mary Jo Kelly Wilhelm, a writer and an educator. She is adjunct faculty in travel and tourism at Shepherd University. We reside in Maryland during summer and Florida in the winter.