Late farmer leaves huge gift
By RICK MORAIN
For The Jefferson Herald
The late Earl Wilson, a retired Greene County farmer who passed away at the age of 102 in 2012, has bequeathed nearly $2 million to benefit the Greene County Medical Center and Greene County High School graduates.
Wilson’s will designated the Greene County Medical Center Foundation as the beneficiary of nearly $500,000.
“It is difficult to describe a gift of Earl’s magnitude with any word other than astonishing,” medical center CEO Carl Behne said. “His love for our community was evident, and his generous donation clearly shows his belief in the medical center’s value as a vital piece of our community.”
Wilson’s estate also created the Earl Wilson Scholarship Fund, which totals about $1.43 million.
The fund will provide scholarships for graduates of Greene County High School using interest earned by investments.
“Earl was very generous in a private sort of way,” said Jefferson attorney Mike Mumma, a trustee of the scholarship fund. “He didn’t seek the limelight with his charitable contributions.
“Even though he and Rosalie had no children of their own, they enjoyed children and took great pride in knowing that they assisted in children’s education.”
The bequests are the latest in a list of large charitable gifts made by Wilson through the years.
In 1974, the Earl and Rosalie Wilson Scholarship Fund was created with $40,000, providing $500 scholarships to more than 140 Jefferson-Scranton graduates since.
A $10,000 gift to the school music department enabled the purchase of a marimba, five timpani drums and eight granite blocks.
At the time of the construction of the Greenewood Community Center at the south edge of Jefferson, Wilson donated $29,000 to equip the facility’s kitchen, including two refrigerators, three freezers, two convection oven stoves, a dishwasher and dishes, pots and pans and other items.
Wilson was born one of six children on a farm northwest of Paton in 1909.
He attended a one-room country school through eighth grade, then Paton Consolidated School through high school.
As a high school student he was a member of a livestock judging team that placed first in the high school division at the Dairy Cattle Congress and Belgian Horse Show in Waterloo.
He and his brother, Curtis Wilson, started farming on their own in 1934 and continued for 38 years, picking corn by hand in the early years.
In a brief autobiography that Earl Wilson wrote in 2009, just before his 100th birthday, he recalled, “We did the morning chores with a kerosene lantern, then milked the cows and harnessed the horses, and fed the hogs with not too much light. In corn-picking time we tried to get to the field by daylight.”
Wilson had his right knee replaced when he was 91 — the oldest patient for that procedure his surgeon ever had.
Wilson entered the Army Air Corps in September 1942, taking training for B-24 bombers and becoming an instructor for that plane.
He was married in 1965 to Rosalie Mooney, who passed away in 1983.
He then married Clara Voigtman, and they were married for 24 years.
They spent 23 winters in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas near Weslaco.