Nature 14

Whitelaw Wilson

May 3, 1933 ~ November 21, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
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Whitelaw Wilson Tribute


Whitelaw "Whitey" Wilson, born May 3, 1933, of Chester, CT, died on November 21, 2023, after complications from a fall. He is survived by his wife of forty-six happy years, Margaret "Peggy." Whitey is also survived by his two children, Robert Whitelaw Wilson, II, of Amherst, MA, and Forrest Rexford Wilson and his wife, Bryn, of Mooresville, NC; and three grandchildren, Taylor, Reese, and Grady Wilson.

Whitey was the second son of Bill and Louise Wilson of Amherst, MA. He was one of four children, including the late Rexford Wilson of Searsmont, ME; Lucy Wilson Strausbaugh of Greenville, SC; and Gray Westgate Wilson of Tacoma, WA. Whitey attended Deerfield Academy and Westtown Friends School before entering Syracuse University in 1952. Upon graduation, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and placed in Lompoc, CA, for his service. Whitey then undertook advanced study at Smith College and Harvard University, ultimately earning his MSW at Syracuse University, where he specialized in adolescent crisis management and suicide studies. Whitey's career was always focused on students. He served in Admissions, Student Services, Dean's Staff, and Assistant Professor of Social Services at Westtown School, Coe and Hampshire Colleges, and Syracuse and Wesleyan Universities. In 1975, he joined Father Kenneth MacDonald and the staff at Mt. St. John in Deep River, CT, a school for troubled adolescents, as Director of Treatment Services. He served there continuously for twenty-one years until his retirement in 1996. He then became the national trainer for the NYC Council on Accreditation, training executives of non-profit agencies in over forty cities. Throughout his career, Whitey taught courses to local teachers, dorm advisors, and college faculty on addressing life-threatening behavior from students. Whitey finished his career with his youngest charges, serving for six years as a substitute teacher at Chester Elementary School.

Even in his twenties, Whitey knew he did not want to have regrets when he was in his eighties, so he tried numerous adventures. Throughout his life, he became an EMT, a fireman, a pilot who flew to every coast, an avid sailor, a runner for twenty years, a Red Cross instructor, and an amateur musician with the Old Lyme Town Band. Whitey was also a passionate motorcyclist. He was a National Motorcycle Safety Instructor who taught the first All-Women's Motorcycle Safety course in CT, as well as the National Safety Director for Honda Sport Touring. As a testament to his wide range of interests and areas of expertise and now part of his legacy, Whitey has more than thirty-five articles of academic and personal interest that have been published in a variety of media.

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Nov. 29, 2023.


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