Winnie Wilson

Wilson, Winnie

Winnie Wilson was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1921, where she also grew up. She attended elementary, junior high, and high school there. After graduation, she went to West Virginia State on scholarship and while there, she met and was married to James C. Wilson, an outstanding All-American Football Player at the College. To this union was born two children, a daughter Karen, who grew up to become an Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, and a son, James Jr., who was in Communication.

Mr. Wilson was employed by the College's Athletic Department and served as Assistant Football Coach, Swimming Coach and Director of the Student Union and Recreation. In 1965, he was hired as Assistant Track Coach at the University of Illinois and the family relocated to the area. While traveling with the University of Illinois Team in Texas, Spring of 1967, he became ill and subsequently died a few days later of Viral Meningitis. This left Winnie with two children to support, a daughter 8, and a son 14.

As a child, it was always Winnie’s dream to become a teacher. A year prior to her husband’s death, she began teaching full-time. It was a tough time making ends meet, so she decided to return to school to earn her Master's Degree so her salary would increase. Never giving up, Winnie received her Master’s Degree in 1970.

Winnie Wilson was a standout teacher in the Champaign Unit 4 School District. She became known as an exemplary teacher and administrator, who is still remembered fondly by former students. Her teaching career covered assignments in many of the Unit #4 Schools, and her reputation as an exemplary teacher and role model spread throughout the community. She retired in 1996.

In 2006, James Jr., a then well-known local radio personality, writer, and former star athlete and senior class president of Urbana High, died.

Winnie was a longtime member of Wesley Methodist Church, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and Altrusa International. Her courage and perseverance in the face of adversity made her a role model for many.

Winnie Wilson passed away in 2014, shortly before her 93rd birthday. She is survived by her daughter.