WEST FRANKFORT -- George William "Bill" Wilson, 64, departed this life at 9:58 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011, in St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon.
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Bill was born April 16, 1947, in Mount Vernon, to George C. and Elouise Marshall Wilson.
He married Cathy Guminiski on March 14, 1970, in St. Mark's Episcopal Church in West Frankfort.
Bill is survived by his wife, Cathy; daughter, Danalyn and husband, Dennis West, of Benton; grandsons, Harley and Evan West of Benton; sisters, Sally and husband, Duane Revis, and Nancy Cockrum, all of Benton; sister-in-law, Judy Steinmetz of West Frankfort; brother-in-law, Danny and wife, Reetha Guminksi, of Reidland, Ky.; nieces and nephews, Tracy Saffelder, Rodney Sailliez, Jason Revis, Michele Odle, Susan Cannon, Stacey Fitch, Danielle Walters and Josh Guminski; aunts, Maxine Taylor and Lucille Yount; lifelong friend, Ron Vanhorn of Whittington; and 30-year co-worker, Marsha Pappas of West Frankfort, who became a trusted and valued friend and was considered a member of his family.
Bill was preceded in death by a son, Mike; his parents; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Zeig and Margaret Guminski; and brothers-in-law, Cliff Cockrum and Jack Steinmetz.
Bill was raised in Whittington, and graduated in 1965 from Benton High School.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969.
He worked with his father in the Wilson Home Improvement Company before becoming a Franklin County deputy in 1974. He served as chief deputy from 1982 to 1990. He was elected sheriff of Franklin County in 1990 and served a total of five consecutive terms, making him Franklin County's longest-serving sheriff, until his retirement in November 2010.
Bill served on several boards over the years, including Rend Lake College Law Enforcement Advisory Board, Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory's Advisory Board, Southern Illinois Criminal Justice Training Board, Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, past president of Mobile Training Unit 15 and past president of Southern Zone Sheriffs' Association. He was elected to the Illinois Sheriffs' Association Executive Board in 1999. He served in all offices and was sworn in as president in 2008.
He served on many committees during his tenure, including at Southern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Rend Lake College and John A. Logan College, to establish student internship programs for law enforcement; assisted the superintendent of schools to establish a GED program for inmates during incarceration; assisted The Women's Center in Carbondale with the victim witness program; and he assisted in a certified training program for telecommunicators in advance of the emergency 911 systems.
Bill was also instrumental in securing the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center.
He was a member of the American Legion Post 280 in Benton, where he had served as a past commander; the Moose Lodge in West Frankfort; West Frankfort Area Democrats; and St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
Bill was an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and collector of baseball cards and memorabilia; loved to watch his garden grow; enjoyed fishing and hunting; and during his last two years, loved spending his days with his lil' buddy, Evan.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, in St. John's Catholic Church in West Frankfort, with the Revs. Jon Griffin and Sherry Black officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, at the church. A walk-through by surrounding law enforcement agencies will be at 7 p.m. Thursday. Interment will be in Tower Heights Cemetery in West Frankfort.
Military rites will be accorded by American Legion Post 280 of Benton, American Legion Post 1961 of Orient and VFW Post 5764 of West Frankfort.
Memorials may be made to Ministerial Alliance, Franklin County Food Pantry or Illinois Sheriffs' Association.
Union Funeral Home in West Frankfort is in charge of arrangements.
For online condolences of sympathy, visit www.unionfh.com.
Published in The Southern Illinoisan on Nov. 2, 2011