Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

TOP STORY>> Matriarch of family is praised

IN SHORT: Funeral today for Ruth Wilson, who touched the lives of many who knew her.

By Sara Greene
Leader staff writer

Funeral services for Ruth Nixon Wilson of Jacksonville will be conducted at 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church. She passed away in her home Sunday.

She was a faithful member of First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville and served as the church or-ganist for more than 30 years.

“She was a kind, thoughtful and very gracious lady,” said Alton Johnson, a fellow church member. “She was very dependable. She was always right there and totally committed to her church and family.”

The matriarch of a family prominent in banking and politics, she was born Feb. 25, 1919, in Little Rock to Hugh and Cora Mae McNair Nixon. After graduating from Little Rock High School in 1937, she attended Southwestern College, now Rhodes College, in Memphis.

She transferred to the University of Arkansas, where she graduated in 1941 with a degree in Romance languages. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. She was elected to the honorary academic fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa.

In February 1942, she married Kenneth Pat Wilson. They lived much of their live on land owned by the Nixon family off Military Road.

The Wilsons’ family life revolved around scholastics, church and athletics, according to the 1996 memoir “At Work in the Fields of Commerce and Industry: The Life and Accomplishments of Kenneth Patrick Wilson” by Elizabeth Shores.

Ruth Wilson taught their children Latin during summertime sessions in the living room, and the family rarely missed high school football or basketball games.

“She would drive five miles out to the country and let her boys Mike and Larry play with my younger son Tommy,” said Johnson. “She was really a special person.”

Her relatives remembered her as someone who loved and cared about her family. Her daughter Kathy and grandson Patrick recalled those summertime Latin lessons for the three children when they were just 8, 10 and 12.

Patrick also recalled how she taught her children and grandchildren the importance of reading and learning.