Notes for Donald Everett Wilson

A Wilson Family Tree

Notes for Donald Everett Wilson

Donald Wilson was born in Trinidad, CO, in 1927. He was the oldest child of three. His family moved to Clovis, NM, in late 1933 or early 1934. They moved to Lamar, CO, in 1936 and then to La Junta, CO, after school was out in the spring of 1937. He finished his schooling through high school in La Junta, graduating in 1945. World War II ended with the surrender of Japan in September 1945. However, many young men were still being drafted, and Don was drafted into the U.S. Army after he turned 18 the following month. He went into the Army Air Corps weather service and ended up being stationed at an air base in Goose Bay, Labrador, as a radiosonde (weather balloon) operator. He did not serve long, though, because most draftees were required to be released from service as the nation moved away from war footing. Don was discharged in January 1947 with the rank of corporal, but with leave due he was home before Christmas 1946 (though he served in the National Guard until 1952). He went to La Junta Junior College, and then was able to transfer to the Colorado School of Mines (in Golden, CO) starting in the fall of 1947. After some problems in his Junior year, he took a year off from school and worked briefly for the Oklahoma Geophysical Company and then for Century Geophysical Company. It was while he was working in Oklahoma that he met his future wife, Audrey Gathright, who was working as a nurse in Elk City at the time. He went back to Mines for his Senior year after taking some make-up courses in Summer 1951. He and Audrey were married in December 1951, the day after Christmas. After he graduated from Mines with a degree in Geophysical Engineering in September 1952, he went to work for Sohio Petroleum Company in Houston, TX. Don and Audrey only lived there for six months, but their son Michael was born in Houston in 1953. In the spring of 1953, they moved to Wyoming, where Don worked on a seismic crew, exploring for oil. They moved often, living in a number of small Wyoming towns. Their daughter Catherine was born in Worland, WY, in 1956. Things settled down a little bit after Don was promoted to Staff Geophysicist in September 1956, and stationed in Casper, WY. He resigned from Sohio in December 1958 and moved to Albuquerque, NM, to work for his father (Leonard) at Walker Radio Company, a small wholesaler of electronic parts. He quit Sohio mainly because the oil business was coming to one of its periodic busts, and he thought he would probably be laid off soon anyway. Sohio eliminated its exploration department six months later. He and Audrey lived the rest of their lives in Albuquerque. She died in June 1998 at age 68 and he died in July 2009 at age 81.

The two most notable aspects of Don's life are probably his long time at Walker Radio Company (later renamed Walker Electronic Supply Company) and his love of working with young people (mainly boys). He worked at Walker for over 50 years, and was still working up till the time of his death. He was the main driving force at Walker for many years. In his later years, much of the day-to-day running of Walker was taken over by his daughter Cathy and her husband, Tom Bynon, but Don was still very important to the business. He was able to take it a little easier because of them, and spend a lot of his time on projects he enjoyed, such as designing custom intercom systems for customers. As for working with boys, that started while he was in college, when he worked for his room and board for three years at the Colorado Industrial School for Boys as a handicraft counselor and night watchman. In Albuquerque, he combined his love of chess with his love of working with kids, and helped form the Albuquerque Schools Chess League, which he ran for nearly 30 years. When his son Mike was old enough to go into Cub Scouts and then into Boy Scouts, Don became heavily involved with them, including becoming first a Cubmaster of Pack 189 and later a Scoutmaster of Troop 189 (both sponsored by Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and its school, where Mike and Cathy went for grades 1-8). Don continued working with the Boy Scouts for many years, even after Mike had gone on to college. He also was active in other ways with the Church, including doing much work on its public address system over the years.

Don was always quite active. For a long time, he was heavily involved in the Albuquerque Chess Club, including running tournaments and playing regularly (his USCF rating was 1900 at its highest, and he was the Albuquerque city champion in 1963). He loved hiking and camping and did them a lot, mainly with the Boy Scout troop. For many years, he used to bicycle to work. He also enjoyed working with dogs, and got very involved in dog obedience training and competitions, and the Sandia Dog Obedience Club. His dogs were all dachshunds, which are not known for being easy to train. However, Don was quite successful at it, and one of his dogs, Coco, was a top-scoring obedience competitor.

Don always had trouble with his back and knees (going back to injuries in college), and in his later years they got bad enough that he could no longer get out and hike or bicycle. It got even worse in his last few years, when he developed neuropathy, and a loss of feeling and control in his legs made it difficult for him to walk. He became known in his neighborhood for riding around on an electric scooter -- often with his dog, Shado, along on a leash. He developed adult-onset diabetes late in life. Diabetes can cause neuropathy, but Don was convinced that his severe back and neuropathy problems were caused by an incident in which he was hit by a car while he was riding his bike. He had back surgery and neck surgery to try to lessen his problems, with some limited success. His last back surgery led to his death after the incision in his lower back became infected.

The name on his death certificate is Donald Everett Wilson. Cause of death was staphlacoccus sepsis (presumably this should be staphylococcus). He died at Presbyterian Hospital.
Headstone of his grave says Donald E. WILSON, 1927 - 2009.

This is a curious story that I had forgotten about (I corrected a few typos):

Coincidence, Imagination, or Reality
Don Wilson, 3-25-07

Many in SDOC [Sandia Dog Obedience Club] know me, more probably know Shado, the Black & Tan standard Dachshund that almost makes canine obedience an oxymoron. He may never get his CDX or UD [these are dog obedience achievement levels] but I think he may deserve a Canine Life Saving Merit Badge. Most of you who know me probably are not aware that I am a Type II diabetic. As with most diabetics my biggest problem has been keeping my blood sugar levels under control. Up until last week this had has been accomplished with medications and diet. This changed last weekend, the weekend of the agility trials.

I worked most of Saturday riding herd on the timing clock. I was relieved late Saturday afternoon and went home only to find that the infamous 24 hour flu had hit me like a sledgehammer. By Monday morning I was feeling almost human and went to work. As the day wore on I started feeling bad so went home early – the flu had struck again with a vengeance!

In-between runs along about seven pm Monday evening Shado and I played out our daily Greenie ritual – he will pester and bark and pester me until I finally give up and go get his greenie [a type of dog goodie]. After giving him his greenie I sat back down and continued watching the DVD movie I had on. About 20–30 minutes later Shado started barking at me and would not let up. He kept acting like he wanted me to follow him. His actions didn’t make sense so I finally got up and started toward him to find out what was bugging him. As I did I suddenly felt woozy and somewhat disoriented. I headed for the kitchen to take a blood sugar reading. Shado shut up as I started toward the kitchen, jumped into a chair and watched me. I took my blood sugar reading and it was low, a dangerously low 33.

So started my low sugar saga. It resulted in my being admitted into the hospital for several days as my body was not responding to the normal treatments for low sugar. The doctors at Pres [Presbyterian Hospital] were at a loss to explain why this had happened to me but all agreed that it was fortuitous that Shado had barked me into getting up as it was quite possible I might have passed out in the chair and had even more, if not deadly, problems. So I ask you fellow dog lovers, Were Shado’s actions Coincidence, Imagination, or Reality?

1930 census
Listed as Donald E. Wilson, age 2, born in Colorado, both parents born in Colorado. Living with his parents.

1940 census
Listed as Donald Wilson, age 12, born in Colorado. Lived in Clovis, NM, in 1935. Had completed six years of school. Living with his parents.

Note: Some of the information in these pages is uncertain. Please let me know of errors or omissions using the email link above.    ...Mike Wilson

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