Obituary of Lloyd Gene Wilson
FORT ATKINSON – L. Gene Wilson passed away at home surrounded by his loved ones on Sunday, July 22, at the age of 91. He was born in Watertown, South Dakota, on January 29, 1927, the son of Lloyd Wilson and Eleanor (Chapman) Wilson. On August 23, 1948, he married Marian Carey of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. She preceded him in death on February 3, 1975. On July 29, 1989, he married Suzanne French-Wilson. She preceded him in death on June 14, 2016.
Mr. Wilson graduated from Platteville High School in January 1945. Following graduation he served in the Navy during World War ll, from February 1945 – August 1946, when he was honorably discharged. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and graduated in 1950 with a BS degree and honors in teaching. He later received an MS degree and completed an Administrative Specialist program from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He enjoyed watching and participating in sports. He played basketball and football in high school; was a basketball starter in the U.S. Navy (Memphis Air Station - undefeated); and played basketball and football his first two years in college, until he was married after his sophomore year. He also coached several sports. He was the assistant varsity basketball coach in Stoughton, when they won their first Badger Conference championship in 1956.
Gene started his professional career teaching and coaching in Center Point, Iowa. After that he served as an administrator for school systems in Wisconsin at Stoughton, Muskego, Jefferson, Watertown, Palmyra, and finally in Cambridge where he retired in 1987. In 1974 Gene was the recipient of the Jefferson Wisconsin Outstanding Citizen Award and the American Educators Award from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
He was a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, a charter member of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Advisory Council, and served on several State of Wisconsin educational committees. In addition, he was president of the Jefferson Kiwanis Club, the Cambridge Lion’s Club, and served as president of the Hidden Golf Homeowners Association in Winter Haven, Florida. After retiring from the Cambridge School system he became a part-time employee of the Fort Atkinson Hospital working out of the Lab as an outside courier. After 21 years of working for the hospital he retired again on June 1, 2008. He then served at the hospital as a volunteer until his 90th birthday.
Gene made a difference. His life was a testimony to his great character. His focus was on his students whom he loved so much and he never stopped caring about them even after he retired. It was never important to Gene Wilson where a student lived or how much they had or who their parents were or even what kind of grades they earned. What mattered to him was the student. He wanted them all to succeed and he did whatever he could to help them.
He was important to his students, too. From his earliest days of teaching in a classroom to the end of his career as a principal, many have kept in touch with him. Former students visited him at his home. They wrote to him, even from the Gulf War. When he saw them on the street he recognized them. Maybe he didn’t remember their names immediately but he knew they were one of his “kids.” His love for them was genuine. It came from somewhere deep within his soul. He was one of a kind.
Gene loved music and he loved to sing. While he was in the Navy he was a member of the U.S. Navy Blue Jacket Choir. He was a choir member at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jefferson, and St. Joseph’s Church in Fort Atkinson. He sang as a member of the Lake Henry Choraleers in Winter Haven, Florida, as well as the Lake Henry male octet. For a time he sang with an all-male choral group in Fort Atkinson.
Mr. Wilson was predeceased by his wives, Marian and Sue; his sister, Suzanne Wilson of Huntsville, Alabama; his parents, Lloyd Wilson and Eleanor Wilson Bucholz; his stepmother, Katherine “Kay” Wilson; and stepfather, Cecil Bucholz. In addition, predeceasing him were his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Chapman of Watertown, South Dakota, and Mr. and Mrs. John A. Wilson of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; cousin Capt. John (Alyce) Craft, U.S.N. Ret. of Honolulu, Hawaii; brothers-in-law Gerald, Wayne, John, Dick, Bill and Bob Carey, William Logue, Donald Turek and Jim French; and sisters-in-law Jean Turek, Rosalie Logue and Marion Carey. Also going before him were three very close colleagues, Mr. Donald Helstad of Monona, Mr. Robert Bowers of Center Point, Iowa, and Mr. George Nikolay of Cambridge.
Mr. Wilson is survived by a daughter, Christine (Myron) Kexel of Winter Haven, Florida; a daughter by marriage, Laurie (Michael) Redman-Steen of Cottage Grove; a sister, Pamela (Butch) Wetzel of Steger, Illinois; a granddaughter, Kiva (Jason) Roth of Fort Atkinson; four grandchildren by marriage, Adam (Kirsten) Kexel, Charles, Daniel (Taylor) and Jessica Steen; two great granddaughters, Jada Schumacher and Kiele Gene Roth; a great grandson, Kade Roth; and two great grandsons and a great granddaughter by marriage, Clayton, Lincoln and Teagan Kexel. Also surviving Mr. Wilson is niece Debbie Easterly of Huntsville, Alabama; nephews Jack “Bo” (Nancy) Easterly of Bolingbrook, Illinois, and Nicholas (Andrea) Kaiser of South Chicago Heights, Illinois; sisters-in-law Peggy (Dave) Currie of Boise, Idaho, Barbara (Bob) Crofcheck of Phoenix, Arizona, Judy French of Winter Haven, Florida, Alice, Janice and Janice Carey and Jo (Tom) McWilliams of Mineral Point, and Trudy Carey of Brandon, Florida; many nieces and nephews; brothers-in-law Tom (Patsy) Meidl and Terry (Joan) Meidl; and Theresa Chmielewski, Dan, Eric and Kristen Aumann.
A mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, July 30, at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church in Jefferson, with Father Thomas Coyle officiating. Lunch will follow in the school cafeteria. Military services will be at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Fort Atkinson at 2:30 p.m. Visitation will be held Sunday, July 29, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Nitardy Funeral Home in Fort Atkinson, and on Monday, July 30, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Jefferson from 9 a.m. until the time of service.
Gene and his family wish to extend a very special “thank you” to Dr. Donald Williams for his care and thoughtfulness, and also to his wife, Barbara, for sharing him with Sue and Gene and many others. Dr. Williams was instrumental in keeping Gene alive beyond expectations. His personal touch and friendship were cherished by Gene and his family.
Also, our thanks and appreciation goes to Doctors James Keelan, Craig Kosler, and Bill Kontny, and Father Thomas Coyle.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Joseph’s Lakota Sioux Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota, St. John’s Catholic School endowment fund in Jefferson, or the Jefferson County Humane Society in Jefferson.