Robert Lester Wilson, son of the late Leslie & Bessie (Knight) Wilson, was born on November 12, 1939 and departed this life on March 11, 2019. At the time of his passing he was 79 years of age.
Bob was born and raised in Pine Bluff. Arkansas, the son of a railroad conductor (Leslie) and the best cook in town (Bessie). He graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1958 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Arkansas State Teachers College in 1962. He was elected President of the Student Senate his senior year. After college graduation, he was accepted as an Aviation Officer Candidate in the United States Navy. While in pilot training in Pensacola, he met his bride, Mary Eela Wilson of Gonzalez, Florida. Mary pinned on Bob’s “Wings of Gold”. Bob was a carrier pilot on two cruises to Vietnam aboard the USS Yorktown (CVS 10) flying the S-2E Tracker. Mary followed the second cruise throughout port visits in the Far East. In 1967 Bob was hired by Trans World Airlines as a flight engineer on the Boeing 707 and moved his growing family to Kansas City. He continued his military career in the Naval Reserve at NAS (Naval Air Station), Olathe, KS flying the P-2H Neptune. At TWA, Bob moved to First Officer flying the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and MD-80, and the Boeing 727. The middle of his naval reserve career was spent with Patrol Squadron 67 at NAS Memphis, eventually transitioning to the P-3A Orion. Bob deployed to Hawaii, Bermuda, Okinawa, and Spain countering the Soviet submarine threat during the Cold War. The culmination of his naval career came when he accepted command of Patrol Squadron 4748. He retired as Captain, United States Naval Reserve. In 1989 Bob upgraded to Captain on the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 at TWA where he remained until his retirement in 1999.
Bob loved good food and a good deal. He had a passion for sharing the world with his loved ones through travel. He was an avid sports fan, and enjoyed bike riding on Pensacola Beach in retirement. Bob loved the church and was actively involved throughout his life. He served as Deacon at the First Baptist Church of North Kansas City and the First Baptist Church of Pensacola. One of his greatest joys in retirement was singing with the 100 member choir at First Baptist of Pensacola. He and Mary participated in numerous choir trips in Europe and the U.S.
Bob was preceded in passing by his parents, his sister Betty Roberts, and his brother Jerry Wilson. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, his children Brent Wilson, Leslie (Spencer) Stith and Barry (Heidy) Wilson, and his grandchildren Emmanuelle and Ian Stith.
Memorial contributions may be made to Homefront Community Development.
Homefront Community Development, Inc recognizes the lack of community-based opportunities for individuals and family development for those who have suffered recent or prolonged periods of homelessness in Kansas City's Northland. We specifically focus on providing safe, affordable, and supportive housing for people struggling with re-entry into the workforce after 1) economic setbacks, 2) recent incarceration/legal issues, or 3) recovery from substance abuse issues/ mental health problems.
Homefront Community Development