Even though Campus Store Manager Hilda Willman grew up in St. Louis, she’d never heard of Priory until she met her husband, Phil, who’s an alumnus from the class of 1971. With an alum husband, an alum son (Alec, ’11), a son in Form III (Daniel), and now a job at the school, she’s become one of its biggest fans.
“I was hooked from the time we came to the admission open house for our older son,” she says.
Hilda says she’s wanted to work at Priory for a long time, but was waiting for the right fit to come along.
A Saint Louis University alumna (along with 3 of her 5 siblings), she originally worked in journalism, advertising and public relations. She was a full-time mom for 15 years, and when she decided to get another job later on, a friend suggested she think about what she enjoyed doing in her free time and turn that into a career.
“Baking came to mind immediately,” she says.
That led her to St. Louis Community College, where she studied baking and pastry making for 2.5 years and earned an associate’s degree. She worked at Kitchen Conservatory in Clayton as a kitchen assistant, helping to prepare for and clean up after cooking classes, and later became the store manager.
“I hadn’t worked retail in a long time, so there was a lot to learn,” she says. Their offerings included more than 6,000 items and an online ordering system. During all of this, Hilda volunteered in Priory’s Campus Store for 6 years, and when Ann Staed decided to retire, Hilda knew the “right fit” had finally popped up.
Priory’s Campus Store presents her with a new set of challenges and opportunities. “I’m working with a new system, and with new types of items,” she says. As Campus Store Manager, she’s in charge of textbook ordering, the sports store, and the Priory goods and apparel that fill all of our homes (and offices and cars, etc.). “To decide on what to stock, I have to think like a teenage boy now,” she laughs.
When asked how she feels about her new job, she beams and says she loves it. “The boys are sweet, the faculty and staff are fun to work with, and the volunteer moms are so creative and helpful,” she says.
Outside of Priory, Hilda enjoys baking and cooking at her Central West End home, and is quite active with Phil at their parish, Saints Peter and Paul in Soulard. The couple met when they were both members of the Soulard Restoration Group, have been married for 25 years and have three children: Alec, who will graduate this spring from Hendrix College with a physics degree; Genny, a sophomore at Purdue studying civil engineering; and Daniel, a freshman who plays football, basketball and lacrosse and enjoys weightlifting every day after sports. “I’m here until 6 most days, waiting for Daniel to finish sports and weightlifting, which gives me time to get my arms around this job. It’s a blessing to have that extra time,” she says.
The Campus Store is open from 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on school days. You can reach Mrs. Willman at 314-434-3690 ext. 140 or email@example.com.