Captain Alan "Al" Frederick Wilson, USNR (Ret)
October 8, 1926 - January 14, 2014
Captain Alan "Al" Frederick Wilson, USNR (Ret) answered the call of his Supreme Commander on January 14, 2014, with his loving wife at his side. He graduated from Amherst (Massachusetts) High in June of 1944, and immediately enlisted in the United States Navy to serve his country during World War II. Al was sent to Morocco as a corpsman in charge of malaria control.
Following his honorable discharge after the war, Al joined the Naval Reserve and returned to his hometown where he attended and graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Then he did what countless other restless young veterans were doing in the late 1940's - "discovering America" on their motorcycles (he rode Indians and Harleys). His stint as a Navy corpsman fueled his interest in human physiology and for a time, he worked in LA General Hospital's lab as a technician.
Al was recalled to active duty at the start of the Korean War in 1950, again as a Navy corpsman. This time, he was assigned to United States Marine legend Lewis "Chesty" Puller's Third Marine Brigade. However, just before being shipped overseas, he was assigned to the Navy's Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island and graduated as an Ensign, thus becoming a Navy "mustang". In military slang, a "mustang" is an officer who previously served as an enlisted man. As quoted in the 'Urban Dictionary' - "Best officers I encountered during my time in the service, bar none, were "mustangers" and warrant officers." He served out the Korean War aboard the minesweeper USS Surfbird (AM-383).
Though he separated from active duty Navy once the Korean War ended in 1953, Al remained with the Naval Reserve. In 1968, the Navy called him to active duty again, this time as a Lt. Commander to serve during the Vietnam War. Between active duty call-ups, Al managed a taxi cab company, married Justine, had a son by her and adopted her two daughters, managed a sales district for Manhattan Shirt Company, became Chief Auditor for Cuyahoga County, Ohio and even ran for the office of mayor of Brook Park, Ohio.
Once back on active duty, Al was assigned to command the office of Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Toledo, Ohio, and then to the submarine-chaser patrol craft USS Hollidaysburg (PCS-1385). Orders to Saigon, South Vietnam in 1970 to be Comptroller of the Command Studies and Operations Group ended his marriage.
In 1972, Al was selected to the rank of Commander and assigned to Treasure Island, California. He soon met his future wife, Mimi. They married in 1975. Previously, in 1973, Al had been assigned to the Staff of Chief of Naval Operations in the US Department of Defense's headquarters, the Pentagon.
Al was selected to the rank of Captain in 1978. By then he and Mimi were living in Fairfax, Virginia. In 1979, the Navy assigned him to the Naval Reserve Command in New Orleans as Comptroller. After three years at NRC New Orleans, his final duty station was California's Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1982, again as Comptroller. Finally, after 40+ years of active and reserve duty for the United States Navy, Al retired with full military honors in 1985.
Al and Mimi retired to Turlock, California where they had an established, diverse universe of family and friends. He was a member of the Scottish Clan Gunn and the Turlock chapter of SIRS. He enjoyed gardening, travel - especially cruises - computers and mixing with his 'folks'.
Al was born to Henry and May Wilson of Amherst, Massachusetts on October 8, 1926. He passed on January 14, 2014 aged 87 years. He was pre-deceased by his parents, sister Julia Wilson Chenoweth and brothers Henry and Robert Wilson, and stepson Steven (Diana) Pira. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Mimi, daughter Kathleen (Dan) Weidner, son Jeffrey (Charlene) Wilson, stepson Robert (Kathleen) Pira, granddaughters Jane, Susan and Maribeth Weidner and grandson Matthew Pira. He will be greatly missed.
Viewing will be at Turlock Memorial Park & Funeral Home, from 7-9pm Thursday January 23rd. Funeral services will be held 11am Friday, January 24th at First Presbyterian Church - 2619 North Berkeley Avenue, Turlock, California, with interment at Turlock Memorial Park.
Donations to the First Presbyterian Church, or the
in Al's name are appreciated in lieu of flowers. The family is grateful for the care Al received at Emanuel Hospital and the Alexander Cohen Hospice House.
Turlock Memorial Park & Funeral Home
575 N Soderquist Rd Turlock, CA 95380
Published in the Modesto Bee from Jan. 21 to Jan. 22, 2014