Franklin Wilson
1942 - 2020
BORN
1942
DIED
2020

Wilson, Franklin Delano

FITCHBURG - Franklin Delano Wilson, Ph.D., the William H. Sewell-Bascom Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, passed on Dec. 22, 2020, at his home in Fitchburg, Wis. He was 78.

He was born on Sept. 3, 1942, in Birmingham, Ala., the second of six children to parents Ollie Lee and Ernest Wilson, Sr. His siblings included brothers, Ernest, Jr., James, Truman, and Richard; and sister, Carol Ann. Franklin graduated from Parker High School.

Franklin attended Miles College, a historically Black college, in Fairfield, Ala. He was active in several organizations, including Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., initiated Sigma Chapter. In 1964, Franklin earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. He began his teaching career as a Sociology instructor at Grambling State University from 1965-1966.

From 1966 to 1969, Franklin served in the U.S. Army. He was promoted to Lieutenant and served as Infantry Commander in Vietnam. In recognition of his leadership and bravery, Franklin received several medals and commendations, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Following his honorable discharge, he attended Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., from 1971 to 1973, where he earned his Master of Arts, a Ph.D., and completed Post-Doctoral studies in Sociology.

A preeminent scholar and researcher, Franklin graced the University of Wisconsin-Madison for over four decades. He was awarded the William H. Sewell-Bascom Professorship in recognition of his scholarship and service. Beginning in 1973, Professor Wilson was on the research staff of the Institute for Research on Poverty and became a member of the Executive Committee in 1994. Among other responsibilities, he served as Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies and the Department of Sociology, and as Director of the Center for Demography and Ecology. He was Co-Editor with Professor Charles Camic of the American Sociological Review, the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association from 2000-2003.

Franklin was equally passionate about family and community. His first marriage to Julia Viltz produced two beautiful daughters, Rachel and Chareese. In a leap for gender equality for Black men, Franklin became a charter member of Jack and Jill, Madison. He also was a charter member of 100 Black Men of Madison. It was at the University where he would meet his beloved second wife and soul mate, Marion Brown. They married in 1986 and formed a blended family. He loved his extended family and never missed their events.

Despite starting life from humble beginnings, he excelled as an academician at one of the top universities in the nation. A gifted teacher, adviser, and mentor, he challenged students to always strive for excellence. He strongly believed that it was important to create pathways for underrepresented students to gain access to a college education.

Franklin maintained a never-ending quest for knowledge, a sense of joy and a thirst for life that others found inspiring, despite his numerous medical and physical challenges. He will be fondly remembered for his love of politics, generous spirit, hearty laugh, and quick wit.

Franklin D. Wilson leaves to mourn his passing his wife, Marion; daughters, Rachel Wilson and Chareese Wilson; grandchildren, Cameron and Ciera; two brothers, Ernest, Jr. and Richard (Florell); his sister, Carol Ann Sievers; mother-in-law, Odessa Brown; and many nieces, nephews, extended family and an abundance of friends and colleagues. He was predeceased by his parents, Ollie Lee and Ernest Wilson, Sr.; and two brothers, James (Inez) and Truman (Anna).

The family thanks the doctors and health care professionals for their compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of Franklin D. Wilson to Miles College (https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=milescollege&id=18), Office of Institutional Advancement, 3500 Myron Massey Boulevard, Fairfield, AL 35064); or to the Franklin Wilson - Great People Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (supportuw.org). A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. For more information and to share your memories, please go to www.cressfuneralservice.com.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3610 Speedway Road, Madison

(608) 238-3434



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Published by Madison.com on Jan. 10, 2021.
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5 Entries
Franklin supervised my MS thesis. He was an exceptional person and professor. Although I did not pursue a career in academics, we stayed in touch and visited at ASA receptions.

He was an extraordinary committed scholar and always kept his great sense of humor. I recall when I moved to Westchester County, he remarked on the demographics of the county (high income) and we spoke at some length about the demographic characteristics of the county.

He was very modest and rarely volunteered information about his accomplishments. He was not hesitant to speak of his Vietnam experience. I recall how he told me how the poverty there (and in India where his boat stopped on the way to Vietnam) was terrible, and how appreciative we should be to live here.

What is less known about Franklin is how he subtly dealt with the political correctness of his time. He was a generous and kind man. He took positions that at the time were considered 'conservative' but did it in a way endeared people to him and he always explained his reasoning clearly.
Joseph Eisenberg
Student
February 10, 2021
Franklin was my mentor to the faculty when I was an assistant professor at Wisconsin. He was both a brilliant scholar and wonderful person. I will always be thankful for the kindness he showed me when I was struggling at Madison. My condolences to Marion and his family.
Lincoln Quillian
January 13, 2021
Franklin was my one-of-a-kind PhD mentor -- equal parts patient, irreverent, and demanding. Excellence with curiosity was the formula. And, it was not an option for Franklin. It was a calling he exuded and shared with others, including me as a green, wide-eyed, and occasionally cynical young advisee. Early on in my graduate training he would inform and direct. Later he would listen and challenge, sometimes for hours in his office on the fourth floor of the Social Sciences Building. Those conversations allowed me to keep learning from Franklin – the person as well as the professional. They are a gift that endures as I strive to pass along his calling (and stories) to students I come to advise and mentor. Through them and me, Franklin's wit, wisdom and tenacious spirit will continue to live on. Thank you, Franklin, for everything. May you rest in peace and continued irreverence.
Jim Elliott
Student
January 13, 2021
We lost a great scholar and a wonderful human being. My heart-felt condolence to Marion and the rest of the family. May Franklin´s soul Rest In Peace.
Gebre H. Tesfagiorgis
January 10, 2021
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
The Staff of Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
January 10, 2021