Pastors' Memoirs

William Mack Wilson, 1930-1994

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Dr. William M. Wilson, the son and grandson of Methodist ministers in the North Alabama conference, was born in Five Points, Alabama, on May 15, 1930. After graduating from the public schools of Birmingham, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Greek from Birmingham-Southern College, and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Vanderbilt University. A person of broad interests, Bill was awarded a music scholarship during his undergraduate years and served as choirmaster of the Vanderbilt School Chorus while he was in Nashville.

An ordained United Methodist minister, Dr. Wilson was a member of the North Alabama conference from 1948 to 1960 and transferred to the South Carolina conference when he joined the faculty of Wofford College. There for 11 years Bill served successivley as chaplain, associate professor of religion, and chairman of the Department of Religion and Philosophy.

In 1971, Virginia Wesleyan College, then beginning its sixth academic session, was much in need of an academic dean who could bring strong leadership and stability to the educational program of the college. I have always privately felt there was a divine hand in guiding Bill Wilson to United Methodism's youngest college, which was so full of potential to develop into a strong liberal arts college.

From the moment I met Bill in the spring of 1971, I liked him. As sons of the Methodist parsonage, we had much in common. I quickly recognized in him the gifts and qualities needed for his position as chief academician of Virginia Wesleyan. As the product of one of Methodism's excellent liberal arts colleges, Birmingham-Southern, and faculty member of another of our fine colleges, Wofford, Bill knew, understood, and appreciated the values and importance of the church-related institution.

As he assumed his responsibilities as vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Wesleyan, Bill brought the stability, leadership and vision the academic life of the college required. It was a joy to be associated with him on a daily basis, always in harmony and with mutual respect and trust In a unique way the academic dean and the president of a very young college needed to work closely together as brothers, and this we did for 21 years.

In addition to his major responsibilities at Virginia Wesleyan, Dr. Wilson was active in the life of Virginia Beach United Methodist Church. He served as as a member of the administrative board and the music committee and as teacher of a large adult church school class for 18 years.

In thinking of my colleague and friend, I recall Bill's intelligence, integrity, wisdom, patience, kindness, compassion, dignity and gift of listening, all combined with an engaging and gentle sense of humor. Bill was the ideal academic leader of Virginia Wesleyan during his tenure. The present remarkable strength of the college attests to his years of service in guiding the academic program for almost a quarter of a century. He was a superb human being whose name is written large in the history of Virginia Wesleyan.

Surviving members of a lovely family are his wife, Martha Jo; four children, Mary Elizabeth, Lisa Barnes, James Cret, and Robert Scot and his wife, Alison; two grandchildren, two sisters and a brother. Two inspiring memorial services were held with many friends and admirers present, first at Virginia Beach United Methodist Church on January 22, and then at Virginia Wesleyan College on January 24. The size of the congregations was an indication of his far-reaching influence.

- Lambuth M. Clarke

 

 

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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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