The Rev. Charles Lewis Wilson died on March 31, 2018 at the age of 86.
Charles was born on July 30, 1931 in Buffalo, NY to Charles H. and Viola (Sypher) Wilson. He graduated from NY’s University of Rochester in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, following which he earned his Master of Business Administration from NY’s Syracuse University in 1954. He then served in the US Army during the Korean War, following which he worked in insurance and marketing before heeding his call toward ministry. In 1964, Charles earned his Bachelor of Divinity from MA’s Harvard Divinity School.
Rev. Wilson was ordained on November 8, 1964 by East Shore Unitarian Church in Kirtland, OH, where he carried out his first ministry until 1966. In that year he was called to serve to Northshore UU Church in Danvers, MA, the town that became his beloved home. From 1971 to 1975 Rev. Wilson served the First Church in Somerville, MA, and then he ministered for two years at Channing Church UU in Rockland, MA. Then over the next two decades, Rev. Wilson carried out a series of vital interim ministries at the following sites: MA’s Hopedale Unitarian Parish (1977 – 1978); First UU Church of Milford, MA (1978 – 1980); First Parish in Lexington, MA (1980); First Parish in Milton, MA (1980 – 1981); NH’s Keene UU Church (1981 – 1982); UU Church of Marblehead, MA (1982 – 1983); the UUA’s Department of Ministry as Associate Director, Boston, MA (1983 – 1984); Church of the Larger Fellowship, Boston, MA (1984 – 1986); First Parish in Concord, MA (1986 – 1988); First Parish in Cambridge, MA (1988 – 1989); and again at First Parish in Lexington, MA (1989 – 1990). Finally, Rev. Wilson returned to the UU Church of Marblehead, MA, this time as their settled minister; Charles served the Marblehead church until his retirement in 1998, at which time the congregation elected him their Minister Emeritus.
Rev. Wilson carried out a great deal of service on behalf of the denomination. He served on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, and he was Executive Secretary of the Accredited Interim Ministers (1977 – 1989). Charles also chaired the Theology section of UU Collegium, and from 1981 to 1987 he was Co-Leader of the Ministerial Start-Up Seminar. And Rev. Wilson performed much service for the Massachusetts Bay District of the UU Ministers’ Association: as a member of the Board of Directors, as Chair of the Nominating Committee, and as Chair of the District Executive’s Ministerial Relations Committee.
Charles was also active in the Civil Liberties Union of MA; the Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture; the American Academy of Religion; the Danvers, MA Historical Society, and the Lexington Clergy Association. He was also keenly interested in ecology and horticulture, being a vegetable gardener and a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the MA Horticultural Society.
In their own tribute to his life, Charles’s family wrote: “He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, who will be deeply missed by his family and the many families and friends he was so honored to have served.”
Charles is survived by his wife of almost 64 years Hildegard Wilson née Hemmerich; his children Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Dobbins (Ephraim), and Charles Wilson Jr. (Elizabeth); and his grandchild John Wilson.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to UNICEF and to Doctors Without Borders.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Northshore UU Church, 323 Locust St, Danvers, MA 01923.
Notes of condolence may be sent to the Wilson Family at 301 Brooksby Village Dr. Unit 514, Peabody, MA 01960.