Eric Donald “Don” Wilson passed away peacefully and at home in Calgary on July 26th at the excellent age of 90 years.
Don was the second son of Emily Roberts and Edward George (Ted) Wilson. His parents had immigrated to Calgary in 1912 but due to his father’s overseas posting in World War I, Don was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on April 2, 1917. The family moved back to Calgary in 1918. Don, at the age of 11, endured the death of his father from tuberculosis. His mother, Emily, a beacon in her own right, instilled in him the virtues of honesty, humor, propriety, dignity, fairness, unselfishness, self-sufficiency and self-accountability that has been an example for all of us that knew him, loved him, worked with him and came in touch with him.
Don was raised in Calgary and breezed through school, graduating from Haultain and then Western Canada High in 1935. He went on to the University of Alberta in Edmonton where he lettered in football for the U of A Golden Bears, earned the name Banjo Eyes, became a member of the Phi Kappa fraternity and managed to graduate at the top of his class with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering in 1939.
Following graduation, he joined Royalite Oil in Turner Valley, Alberta. Only later did he find out that he’d been hired with money that had been provided in the budget for a horse.
His career was interrupted by the Second World War where he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, as did his brother, Ken. Don specialized as a Navigator, and rose to the rank of Squadron leader. He flew supply missions on a B 24 Liberator based in Ceylon from 1944 to the end of the war, and was pre-deceased by his brother Ken who was shot down and killed over Berlin in 1944.
He was home from the war for less than a month when he married Luella Mannix of Calgary on December 28, 1945. They started their lives together in Turner Valley’s oil patch. Over the next twelve years they brought six children into the world: Ken, Paul, David, Mike, Clair (yahoo…a girl!), and Jim. The Wilson family, as any of those lucky enough to have received one of Don’s famous self-designed and self-made Christmas cards can attest, became a project-for-life for Don and Luella.
Don taught all of his children to love life and to love it by taking it on directly. He taught us to hunt, to fish, to ski and to play golf. He taught us to box, to skate and to participate. He encouraged us, if not insisted upon, achieving top marks in school. He taught us to respect one another, and very importantly for his sons: to respect, support and love the women in our lives, and ultimately, our wives. Our Mom was the first liberated woman we knew.
Don had a long and successful career with Imperial Oil Limited, spending the bulk of his time in the exploration end of the business, and retired in 1975. Highlights of his career included assignments leading Imperial’s early efforts in Ft McMurray and Cold Lake. He and Luella fulfilled a dream, acquiring a property in Maui, Hawaii where they and “the kids” had countless wonderful times, playing golf on the Gold or the Blue, picking papayas from Don’s garden, and sometimes bananas too.
He was diagnosed with cancer in January of 1983, which marked a whole new beginning for him as a tireless and totally committed believer in nutrition, diet and exercise as the keys to a long and healthy life. His views, which seemed very unusual, if not “kooky” at the time, are now very mainstream and strongly recommended by health and nutrition professionals everywhere. In 1990 Don founded and registered the Alberta Alternative Cancer Research foundation to seek out and support projects dedicated to the prevention of cancer. This AACR foundation will stand as a testimony to Don’s commitment to life, and his completely unselfish view that everyone else’s health and well being was more important than his.
That’s why he lived a strong and vibrant life for ninety wonderful years-although many years short of where he was committed to be.
Don is survived by his five children and their spouses, Ken and Stephanie, Paul and Audrey, Mike and Marsha, Clair and Jamie Paulson, Jim Wilson and Marilyn Boston; his daughter-in-law Rosemary; seventeen grandchildren, Jessica, Jordan, Dominique, Erik, Ashley (Lee), Ryan, Clair, Kerri, Mark, Tanner, Julie, Christo, Danny, Luke, Tara, Shannon and Alexandra; as well as one great- granddaughter Tayla. Don was pre-deceased by his spouse, Luella and son David.
Those wishing to pay their respects may do so at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Park Memorial Chapel (5008 Elbow Drive S.W.) on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (218 – 7th Avenue S.E.) on Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 2:00 p.m. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Canadian Red Cross Society, 737 – 13 Avenue S.W., Calgary, AB T2R 1J1 Telephone: (403) 541-6100.
In living memory of Don Wilson, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: (403) 243-8200.Print This Obituary & Condolences