Wilson, Larry Beloved Father, Grandfather and Great - Grandfather Larry Wilson, passed away peacefully in his daughter's home, surrounded by family after complications due to a stroke suffered in 2009. He was 83. Born in Louisville, Ky. in 1930, Larry grew up in Minneapolis, MN. He graduated from St. Thomas Academy. He was fond of telling people he was at the bottom of the class, but in fact he was only second to last. In 1949, he graduated from the University of Minnesota and married Ann Nugent with whom he had eight children. Larry taught high school English and Drama in Sheldon, Iowa and sold shoes at JC Penney in Minneapolis before accepting a position as a salesman for the New England Life Insurance Company. He quickly rose to become one of their top young salesmen. He was elected to the prestigious "Million Dollar Roundtable", and became, at twenty-four, the youngest member in their history to ever achieve that goal. A spirited entrepreneur at heart, his success in sales led to speaking engagements all over the world and soon he left New England Life and began what would become his life long journey, inspiring others to "Become the Best that they could Be." While he launched this new career, he wrote speeches while listening to Judy Garland, performing them for his kids. All the kids knew every story and every joke by heart by the time they were teens. In his spare time he played ''razzle-dazzle" touch football and hockey with his kids and directed them in homemade musicals. In 1964, he formed Wilson Learning Corporation. Wilson Learning designed sales training, management training, customer service and a multitude of other programs for companies all over the world. Larry created Wilson Learning based on the idea that people should strive for both performance and fulfillment. He was a rebel against corporate conformity and hierarchy, once giving a speech called, "Make Love Not Sales!" He loved challenging the thinking of corporate leaders. 48 years later that legacy is still going strong, with offices all over the world. In 1978, Wilson Learning was the second largest training company in the world, employing hundreds of individuals worldwide, and inspiring thousands. In 1981, Larry sold Wilson Learning. It was widely assumed that he would retire and enjoy his growing family of grandchildren, but at only 51 years old retirement was far from his thinking. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and launched two new companies. The first was Interactive Technologies; one of the first companies to explore the possibilities of computer based learning. The second company was Pecos River Learning Corporation. Pecos River Ranch in Ilfield, New Mexico was a conference center, a retreat and home to the Pecos River Learning Center. Pecos River furthered Larry's vision to help companies everywhere use their creativity and courage to help create a better world. The Pecos River Learning Center, along with offices in Santa Fe, employed over 100 people in New Mexico and hundreds more worldwide. A family business, all six of his children and their partners participated in the growth, the vision, and development of the company. During this same time, Larry wrote four books, two of them, Changing the Game and Play to Win! were national business best sellers. Yet, ever the entrepreneur, Larry sold Pecos River in 1992 but continued his work in helping corporations re-invent themselves to face the challenges of the coming century. He was a sought after consultant and speaker for some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the world. Larry was preceded in death by both of his parents, Herschel L. Wilson, and Ellen Wilson, his sister Betty Watermolen, a daughter Mary Kate Wilson, and a son Michael Wilson. He is survived by his ex-wife Ann Nugent Wilson, mother of his six children. He is also survived by his eleven grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren; Hersch and Laurie (Edwards) Wilson, (Brynne, Sully) Bonnie Wilson, (Corey, Christopher, and Casey) and Larry Smith, George and Susan (Wilson) Robinson, (Brandon, Meghan, Katie) Patricia Wilson and Chip Woods, (Morgan) Greg and Margaret (Wilson) Hesch, (Emily, Hailie) Joseph Wilson and Linda Pedelty. A memorial celebra- tion will be held at The Basilica of St. Mary's, located on Hennepin Avenue between 16th &17th Streets in downtown Minneapolis, MN at 11:00 AM Friday, April 26th. A Senior Fellow at The University of Minnesota, in lieu of flowers, Larry asked that memorials be directed to the: LARRY WILSON ENDOWMENT IN EDUCATION FUND, #3486 in care of The University of Minnesota Foundation, 200 SE Oak St., Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55455.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.