Long time Wallowa resident Donald Wilson was born Feb. 5, 1922 in Oregon City, Oregon, and died peacefully August 14, 2015 at age 93 at Kadlec Hospital, Richland, Wash. in the presence of family.
The son of Floyd B. Wilson Sr. and Emma Meryl Bruce was preceded in death by two brothers, Floyd B. Wilson Jr. and Russell Wilson. Older brother Floyd Jr. passed away at age 80 in Salem, while younger brother Russell died at age 3 in 1926 from Spinal Meningitis.
When he 5 years old Donald’s mother passed away due to tuberculosis. Donald’s beloved wife of nearly 57 years, Eileen Mittby Wilson, passed away May 17, 2002 at Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Enterprise.
Immediate survivors of Donald Wilson include Chris Chandler, daughter, of Gig Harbor, Wash. and husband Mike; Rocky Wilson, son, of Wallowa and wife Megan; granddaughter Becky King, of Wallowa; grandson Seth King, of Cartersville, Georgia; Adam King, of New York City; and two great granddaughters, Belle and Luci King.
Other near-family survivors include two daughters of Donald’s brother Floyd Jr.: Shirley Starr, plus husband Dick of Albany, Ore.; and Karen Mason, plus husband Mark of Joseph.
In 1949, Floyd Sr. remarried Virginia “Ginnie” Faust of Portland and had a second family younger than Donald’s son and daughter. From that union, half-brother DeWayne Wilson of Hubbard, Ore. and half-sister Mary Alice Zastoupil of Leaburg, Ore. were born.
After the death of their mother, Floyd Jr. and Donald were raised by grandparents Hoyt and Eliza Wilson near Oregon City for six years. While growing up, the Wilson brothers lived in poor conditions in rural Oregon locales near West Linn, Beaver Creek, Oregon City, and McMinnville.
During those years, in addition to performing chores on family farms, Donald earned money by picking peaches and hops, delivering newspapers, and working on a dairy.
Although remembered for his love and involvement with sports, Donald was not allowed to participate in organized sports until his sophomore year in high school when he played basketball. His favorite sport became track where he was a natural. Finally allowed to join the McMinnville track team the final week of his junior year, Donald practiced four days and lettered at the district track meet. The following year, Donald set a state record while winning the mile at the all-schools Oregon state track meet. He next attended the University of Oregon where he ran two years for his lifetime mentor, the legendary Coach Bill Hayward. At the U of O, Donald set an Oregon/Oregon State dual meet record when he recorded his personal best mile time of 4:19.3 and was told by Coach Hayward that Donald had the potential to become the world’s first 4-minute miler.
Enter World War II and then bronchitis.
Donald joined the Marine Corps in June 1942 and honorably was discharged in June 1944 for health reasons.
On June 4, 1945, one day after they graduated from Linfield College, Donald and Eileen were married.
“Coach” Don Wilson coached multiple sports over a total span of 35 years at McMinnville, Molalla, Sherwood, and Scappoose high schools plus the University of British Columbia before moving to Wallowa and coaching there for 25 years.
An oft-repeated praise given to “Coach” Wilson was his innate ability to treat all athletes and students equally and fairly.