WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Elizabeth Wiltsee was brilliant, an artistic woman who wrote novels and plays, who attended Stanford, studied Chinese and translated Homer from the original Greek for fun.
But Wiltsee suffered from a mental illness that dashed her promise and left her homeless on the steps of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Watsonville before her death at 50 in 1999.
Her story, a tale of heartbreak and humanity, lives on in a documentary, titled “This Dust of Words.”
The film, which has been broadcast on PBS, will be screened Nov. 19 at St. Joseph’s Church in Capitola. The Rev. Patrick Dooling, who, as a priest at St. Patrick’s, knew Wiltsee and appeared in the documentary, will be at the screening.
The film by director Bill Rose tells Wiltsee’s story through interviews with those who knew her and through readings of her writings, unpublished novels and plays discovered in a rental unit in Watsonville after her death.
Rose said through her letters, he realized Wiltsee never surrendered her creative spirit.
In the summer of 1999, when she was working on a new play, Wiltsee told another homeless woman she was going home. She was last seen walking along Highway 152 through Pacheco Pass. Her body was found in February 2000 in a remote area near San Luis Reservoir.
“Her letters were really heartbreaking because they were all about new beginnings,” Rose told the Sentinel in 2008. “She was working on new play, a new novel. You can see enthusiasm and the wheels turning in her mind.”
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The Mercury-News in San Jose, Calif.:
Posted by BA Haller at 5:56 PM