What will survive of us is love. ~ Philip Larkin
Gary Charles Wilson transitioned on January 1, 2021 on a beautiful New Year’s morning in Los Angeles. He is survived by his sister Nancy Wilson and her daughter Robin Wilson, sister Debra Levasseur-Lottman and her son Richard Levasseur and his sister Lois P. Jones.
Gary was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 2, 1948, the eldest of four children to Frieda and Walter Wilson. He stayed close to his mother. She loved her son dearly and for her entire life, she faithfully called him once a month after he moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. He loved his Baubie Anna and spoke of how good she was to him and how he spent time at the room and board she owned in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Gary was a huge foodie and his grandmother was the queen of cooks. He loved her homemade meals; matzo ball soup, stuffed cabbage, challah, and all the fabulous desserts she made and brought with her from her native Romania. She played accordion and was an accomplished seamstress among other things. She was the cultural keystone of Gary’s family.
Growing up in Chicago, Gary enjoyed spending time on the beach with his mother and sisters. His family have many memories of all the games he played including Monopoly, checkers and card games. Sometimes his family would go downtown to the Marina Center for an afternoon of bowling. He was a total natural and always seemed to be in the lead no matter what activities the family engaged in. Gary grew up in a house of dance – his mother Frieda frequented the famous Aragon Ball Room in Chicago and would swing to the famous big bands of the time including Glenn Miller. She brought the love of dance into the family and she often had the radio on. When a great tune came up in the queue, whether it was the Beatles or a James Brown hit, everyone leapt up to dance. Gary kept that love for all his life and danced into his late 60’s.
Gary’s greatest passion was sports. He followed his favorite teams religiously and was extremely knowledgeable with a keen memory for statistics. He could easily name who brought in the winning pitch or run in a given World Series including the player’s names and he seemed to know everything about the teams, where and when they played and who were the best players. His love of sports went beyond baseball to include football, basketball and ice hockey and he often had his favorite sportscasters to listen to.
Gary’s journey took him to California at 18 when he hopped on a Greyhound to California and never looked back. There was so much he grew to love about California and even his beloved city of Pasadena. The sunshine, the ragged peaks of the San Gabriel mountains, the parks and the city’s zoos and botanical gardens. Most of all he loved the Pacific ocean. He took many trips there to watch the waves and later in life always asked to be taken to spend time along the shore or to walk the Santa Monica Pier and watch the fishermen, musicians and locals enjoying the tastes and sounds of the California lifestyle.
Gary’s life was an uphill battle, he struggled early on with emotional, mental and spiritual challenges and found himself inside the social services system from his 20’s to the end of his life. Even with his challenges, Gary had a true joie de vivre and a network of people who called him friend. Gary lived for many years in assisted living facilities which cared for his basic necessities and sometimes offered excursions to places around the city.
Gary always maintained his love for his family and would often say I love all the Wilsons. He loved life with all his heart.
We will adore and remember you and stand as tall as the oaks you loved, knowing you are forever planted in our hearts.
Memorial donations may be directed to Safe Harbour at: https://www.alternativementalhealth.com/about/donations/
and/or Peace Players at:
A service and celebration of Gary is scheduled for January 31, 2021.