Geoffrey Wilson has died at the age of 101. He had a remarkable life. An only child, he was born into humble circumstances in Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
He excelled at school and in 1938 he entered the University of Leeds on a scholarship aged 16. In 1940 he graduated with First Class Honors in Engineering and began a Ph.D program, which was cut short by WW2. Instead he graduated with a M.Sc. First Class in Engineering in 1942 and moved to London where he worked throughout the War. As he signed the Official Secrets Act he never divulged what he worked on.
In 1946, returning to the University of Leeds he lectured in the new department of Civil Engineering and designed the first course in Architectural Engineering (called at first “Engineering Aesthetics”) which he has been delighted to find is now considered an important element of the syllabus. During the War he had studied architecture and qualified in 1952, whereupon he was persuaded to join the University’s new Department of Planning as its Chief Planning Officer. His job was to oversee the expansion of the University in terms of buildings – obtaining land, obtaining planning permission, vetting architecturally sound plans, and repurposing existing buildings. It was challenging and exhilarating work.
In his spare time he was busy with the Boy Scout movement and (in the University) the Rovers. He had been chosen as a Duke of Kent’s Messenger himself in 1938.
After marrying happily and producing a daughter (Susan Penelope), he eventually relinquished his role in the Scout movement. Most of his free time was then consumed with rebuilding an old eighteenth century farmhouse which had fallen into disrepair in Nidderdale, Yorkshire.
Geoffrey retired in 1979 and began to learn the art of watercolor painting. In 1992 he and his wife (Eleanor Margery) emigrated to the Chicago area to be with his daughter and her husband (Charles Bergen) and their growing family (Molly, Alice and Katherine). There his new career as a watercolorist flourished and he was able to both sell his paintings and teach. He was also able to write his memoirs, entitled “Never a Dull Moment”, in which his inimitable voice comes through.
Geoffrey was always a very kind and a very modest man, with a sharp mind and a keen sense of humor. Delighting in word play, word derivations and being a fiend at Scrabble.
He leaves his daughter Sue (Chuck), granddaughters Molly, Alice (David), Katie and great granddaughter Olive.
He will be much missed.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 1:30 P.M. at the Seguin & Symonds Funeral Home, 858 Sheridan Road, Highwood, Illinois.
Dad was an artist and would prefer you all to wear clothes appropriate for the Spring and not for a funeral - think colors!
Donations to Geoffrey's favorite charity, Medicins San Frontiers, (www.doctorswithoutborders.org) would be welcome.
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