Don Wilson, 88, passed away peacefully at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, as a result of a head injury from a fall at home.
He was born in 1931 in Toledo, Ohio, to Grace Wilson and Alvin Hawk. He was the youngest of nine children in the home of Grace and fire-tempered Paul Wilson, and he would not understand for almost 30 years that Hawk, the tall and lean Algonquin-American family friend, was indeed his biologic father. His half-siblings were quite protective of their youngest brother, and his eldest sister took him out of the home to southern California in the late 1930s where he lived with her and grew into adolescence running the beaches of Santa Monica.
Don was drafted in 1951 and chose to join the U.S. Air Force. He served in Korea, surviving injuries from a plane crash and enemy small arms fire to earn a Purple Heart. His 23-year military career in intelligence took him all over the world — including rural Idaho and the first nuclear program, Indonesia and Turkey for the U2 mission and again during Vietnam, the Air Force Academy in Colorado and finally Alaska before he retired as a Master Sergeant in 1974. Afterward, he began a second career as Deputy Director for Labor Standards for Alaska, traveling throughout the state to ensure fair labor practices.
While living in Anchorage in 1981, he met and married Vicki (Johnson) Stokes, who he would fondly refer to as “the woman who saved my life.” In 1988, they decided to move to Vicki’s childhood home, the Methow Valley. Don worked at Sun Mountain Lodge, the Virginian, and he was the DJ known as “The Silver Fox” at the old KVLR radio. He was instrumental in spearheading the Methow Valley Health Alliance and promoting the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. He belonged to the Kiwanis and the MV Chamber of Commerce but was most passionate about his brotherhood in the Free Masons of the Methow. He served in many positions of leadership with his beloved Masons, and was the public face of the annual “Rifle Raffle” fundraiser, spending many an October weekend selling tickets in the vestibule at Hank’s Harvest Foods. Don saw all kinds of familiar faces when he and Vicki would “go to market” and make their circuit around town, which they did almost daily.
Don was preceded in death by all nine siblings, previous wives Mary, Mimi and Pam, and children Cynthia and Jason. He is survived by his loving wife, Vicki, sons Danny and Seann Wilson (Amy), stepdaughters Jill and Amber Stokes (Diane), as well as several grandchildren including Lauren, Lindsey and Seann Jr., who have great memories of their Grandpa from time spent in his home during their younger years. Don lived a life of colorful experiences — he was a fine storyteller, superb tomato gardener, and master of his kitchen. In the end, even as his body would not cooperate in its frailness, he remained sharp as a tack, sure and often insistent on his opinions. He will be missed.
In lieu of a memorial service, please help Vicki keep the memories of her “Donny” close to her heart. Cards would be much appreciated and fondly received at P.O. Box 378, Twisp, WA 98856. Memorials may be made in Don’s name to the Masonic Lodge No. 240 of the Methow Valley in Twisp for ongoing support of the “Bikes for Books” and other scholarship programs in the Methow Valley Schools.