Col. Dwight Vern Wilson, our precious "Papa," went to be with the Lord on Saturday evening, January 30, 2021. He passed peacefully at home, surrounded by his family. He lived a long, full and accomplished life.
He was born in Galva, Iowa, on May 18, 1932, in the house on the farm which has been owned by the family for more than 100 years.
He studied agriculture at Iowa State at the encouragement of his mother Pearl, where he entered ROTC. After graduation he followed his brother Roy's example of service in the Army Air Corps, as he entered the Air Force as a commissioned officer.
Dwight loved to fly airplanes, which he did when he flew his Piper Cub home from school in Ames to Galva. He enjoyed telling the story of when he landed in the freshly-ploughed field and had to get the neighbors to help him pull it out of the mud, and how he gave many of his family members their first rides in an airplane so they could see the farm from above.
He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1954 which took him first to California and then to Texas, and Ellington Field near Houston, where he took navigator training, and continued on as a navigator trainer. He made many lifelong friends during this time and they continued their adventures together on assignment in Tachikawa, Japan, and beyond.
Dwight loved to talk about the early days of flying around the Arctic Circle as part of the Strategic Air Command "DEW" line (Distant Early Warning) system to detect Soviet incursion during the Cold War, where he visited locations from Greenland to Point Barrow, Alaska.
He had assignments from coast to coast in the U.S, international tours including Vietnam, and an assignment in Hawaii, where he served as Director of Procurement of the Pacific Air Forces until he retired in 1979 as a full Colonel after 26 years of service.
He instilled in his family a love of airplanes and world travel (and geography!). After retirement from the Air Force, he had another 14-year career in procurement at Otis Elevator, and also renovated many houses throughout his life. He always involved his family in the projects, teaching them valuable skills and giving them experience along the way. Papa was always organized, patient and kind, always encouraging people in their goals. "You can do it," he would say. "Great job."
He is preceded by his brother Roy, his sisters Helen and Dorothy, his father H. Vern Wilson and his mother Pearl (Willey) Wilson. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, to whom he was married for 56 years, his daughter Denise, his son-in-law, Marlon, his grandson, Dwight, his sister-in-law LaMerle, and many others of his large and loving extended family.
We wish to thank Houston Methodist Hospital and Star of Texas Hospice, who accomplished miracles to bring him home to us and keep him comfortable so we could enjoy our time with him.
He will be interred at Houston National Cemetery in March with Military Honors in a private ceremony with the family. Celebrations of Life will take place in Houston, Dallas and Galva when circumstances permit.
We are very grateful for the wonderful 88 years that we got to enjoy with him. We miss him dearly and his memories and kindness will be with us forever.