William (Billy Ray) Wilson, 88, passed away Saturday, December 18, 2021, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was born in Balko, Oklahoma, son of Everett Leroy Grace and Anna Katherine Pugh Grace. Anna later married Marvin Nash Wilson and Marvin adopted Bill.
Bill Wilson graduated from Ponca City High School in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1952. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 24, 1953, served in Korea, and was honorably discharged September 14, 1956. Airman First Class Wilson received the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Korean Service Medal.
Wilson attended Oklahoma Baptist University and Oklahoma State University. After receiving his master’s degree, he taught Latin and civics among several other subjects throughout his career in public schools in Denver, Tulsa, Ponca City, Miller and Walnut Grove, Missouri, Dallas, and Pampa, Texas. He enjoyed being a handyman, carpenter, and raconteur. His hobbies included horseback riding and genealogy, researching and publishing his family histories in two books, “Squire Wilson Pioneer” and “Hangin’ on in the Handle.”
Wilson married Louise Austin of Ponca City, Oklahoma and the couple had three children, Laraine (husband, Mike) of Corinth, TX; Wayne (wife, Julie) of Prosper, TX; and Tim (wife, Cheryl) of Fort Worth, TX. He had four grandchildren: Kristi Burns, Amber Kidd, Meghan Wilson, and Mitchell Wilson.
Wilson was a member of the Lions Club, American Legion, and Trailblazers Riding Club. He served as the pool manager, swimming instructor, and lifeguard at Bogan, Lincoln, and Wentz Pools in Ponca City, and also the public pool in Greenfield, Missouri. Wilson coached football and wrestling during his years as an educator. He was a mentor to many students instilling the importance of hard work and education and was a good friend to his associates. He loved life, his family and friends, his country, and his horses.
Wilson had a brother Gene (wife, Jessica) Wilson (Plano, TX) and 11 siblings on the Grace side of his family: Evelyn, Ellen, Bud (Everett Leroy Grace, Jr.), Gayle, Dale, Linda, John, Jane, Janiece, Carol, and Sue.
A graveside service was held Wednesday, December 29, 2021 at Jacksonville National Cemetery. Military honors were rendered by Moody Air Force Base Honor Team.