Joseph Franklin Wilson ‘ 41

Joseph Franklin Wilson, 94, passed away on February 27th in Tucson, AZ. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Martha. He is survived by his wife Carol, his children and their spouses, Joe and Tricia Wilson, Stuart and John Beard, Riley and Cindy Wilson, Fran Wilson and Sam Barber, his grandchildren Jesse Wilson, Martha Beard and her husband Ben London, Samantha Beard, Kenyon and Calista Wilson, and Gus and Bess Barber, and his step-son and family, Jeff and SoSim Peterson and their son Alex.

The youngest of seven, he was born August 16, 1919 to Robert Manton and Bess Knox Wilson, medical missionaries living in Korea. Raised with a “certain amount of attention and a certain amount of neglect”, Joe grew to be a crack shot with a pellet gun by the age of six. Within the Wilson clan, danger was a steady companion. There was a pet leopard, a pet bear, a pet deer, and more snakes– all named Betsy– than you could fit in a sock. Two of his brothers are still living: John, age 97, and Bob, age 99.

 Joe attended Davidson college in North Carolina and the Medical College of Virginia. During various training rotations and Army postings, he met and married Dr. Martha Frances Richardson Wilson of Seneca, South Carolina. Together they had four children. The family moved to Alaska with the US Public Health Service in 1959, first to Sitka, and then Anchorage in 1961. He was a surgeon at the Alaska Native Medical Center until 1989. His presence brought ease to patients and colleagues alike, and even the hairiest of complication prompted nary-an expletive, but a simple “Good grief!”He led his kids, grandkids, and legions of friends on many a grand adventure.

Fishing was his special love. On the boat, he was guileless and pure. He loved everything about it: the baiting, the wet sleeves, the early and long hours, the anticipation, the camaraderie, the exclamation of bringing any fish onboard, the laughing-gaffing-bonking-bleeding-cleaning-icing thrill of it all. He wanted to keep doing it forever, but he also wanted it for us. He was the indomitable force in our lives, and we adored every molecule of him.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 11 at 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage, 616 W. 10th Ave. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations to be made to Carondelet Hospice of Tucson, Arizona (520-205-7700), or the Food Bank of Alaska.