Gerald Wilson, 77, passed away on July 6, 2020 at his home in Ridgecrest, California after an 18 month battle with Mesothelioma. He died peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones.
Jerry was born in a farmhouse in the countryside of Roger Mills County, Oklahoma to Lois Lorene (Nelson) Wilson and Clarence Melvin Wilson. It was a childhood spent in rural surroundings, enjoying horseback riding, rodeos, fishing, main street parades, and tending to the family farm with his sisters, Melvena and Sandy.
After graduating Leedey High School in 1960, Jerry enlisted in the Navy to “see the world.” For 20 years he did just that, traveling the seas on the USS Helena, USS Prairie, USS Constellation, USS Montgomery, and USS Galveston. He served 3 tours in Vietnam, earned an AS degree in Computer Technology, worked as an electrician, and proudly achieved the ranks of Master Chief and CWO2 during his military career.
On Valentine’s Day 1969 in San Diego, Jerry married Linda Gail Cunningham after meeting on a blind date two years earlier. Together they had two children: Julia Leigh, born in 1970; and Daniel Wayne, born in 1973. Like many navy families, they alternated between coasts — living in San Diego, then WV, then Santee, CA.
After Jerry’s retirement from the Navy in 1979, the family moved to Ridgecrest, CA where Jerry worked as an electrician for Kerr McGee Chemical Corp, and Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake. For the next 25 years, Jerry & Lyn called Ridgecrest home, raising their family here. Jerry was a member of the Elks and enjoyed the outdoors. Weekends were spent at the shooting range, fishing & camping at Lake Isabella & Pleasant Valley Reservoir, refurbishing cars, skeet & trap shooting, and climbing Rademacher Hills in his Bronco with the kids & dogs bouncing around the back seats!
In 2005, Jerry retired from China Lake. He and Lyn sold everything they owned, bought a new RV, and went traveling full time. They spent the next few years touring America, sightseeing our country’s landmarks. Along the way, they made life-long friends, visited family, played pool, played cards, took up karaoke, and walked their dogs in nearly every state.
After their travels, Jerry & Lyn settled down in Arizona, calling Casa Grande their home for a decade, then returned to Ridgecrest in 2019 to be closer to family. They remained in Ridgecrest until Jerry’s death, surrounded by loved ones.
Those who remember Jerry know that he possessed an engaging wit that was part Irish charm, part farm boy orneriness, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye! He was an infamous wise-crack, befriending & building rapport with those he encountered. Jerry had a fondness for genealogy, watching old westerns, and doting on his dogs who were always beside him, even at the end. If he was driving, the radio was on and it was loud! He loved going out to dinner with family & friends, followed by hot fudge sundaes and generous tips. He adored his grandkids, and regaled them with stories from his youth spent on the farm & on the seas. Some of the happiest years of his life were spent with Lyn in the RV, traveling America. They were married for 51 years.
Dad, we hold close your favorite line of poetry: “For all your days prepare, and meet them ever alike: When you are the anvil, bear – When you are the hammer, strike.” Today, we bear. Jerry is survived by his loving wife, Lyn; daughter Julie Bradford (husband John, grandkids Matthew & Laura Bradford) of Ridgecrest; son Dan Wilson (wife Kristi, grandson Kyle) of Sterling, VA; daughter from a previous marriage Susan Craighead (grandkids Kimber & Kamber Craighead) of OK; his sisters Melvena Allen of AZ and Sandra Hampton of TX; and many nieces & nephews. Jerry was preceded in death by his mother and father, as well as grandson Ryan Craighead of Oklahoma.
The family wishes to thank Oasis Hospice for their assistance & comfort during Jerry’s final months.
As per Jerry’s wishes, no memorial service will be held except for a private graveside ceremony with immediate family. His ashes will be interred at Desert Memorial Park in Ridgecrest, CA.