He was born on May 18, 1928, in Charleston, W.Va., to Luther Lee and Hilda (Lawson) Wilson. The family later moved to Cleveland, where he was raised.
He entered the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1950. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and was ordained on May 28, 1960.
After two years of parish ministry at St. Adalbert Church in Cleveland, Fr. Wilson attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where he studied library science. A lifelong learner, Fr. Wilson later completed coursework at other institutions as well.
In 1964, he was named librarian of Brunnerdale, the congregation’s high school seminary near Canton, Ohio. He later returned to parish ministry, once again at St. Adalbert where he served for many years, and at St. Anthony Church in Detroit; St. Francis of Assisi in Palo Alto, Calif.; St. Agnes in Los Angeles; St. Barnabas in Alameda, Calif.; and St. Edward Church, Newark, Calif. Fr. Wilson was also a formation team member for the Province of the Pacific. In 2006, he returned to Ohio as a senior associate pastor of St. Mark Church in Cincinnati. Since 2009, he had been in ministry at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio, which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
Fr. Wilson was last of his immediate family. He was preceded in death by his parents and five siblings.
Fr. Wilson was always cheerful, always joyful in his service to the Lord and to the Church, said Fr. Clarence Williams, C.PP.S. “I first met him when I was in the fifth grade at St. Adalbert School (in Cleveland). He would come into our classroom—he was the first African-American priest most of us kids had ever laid our eyes on,” Fr. Williams said. “All the kids were crazy about him. He had a big impact on all of us.”
At the time, Fr. Wilson was the only African-American priest in the Diocese of Cleveland. “Everybody knew him,” Fr. Williams said, adding that Fr. Wilson was very supportive of him when he began his own studies for the priesthood. Fr. Wilson had a strong devotion to the Holy Spirit and was active in the charismatic movement of the Church, often presiding at healing Masses where many people came to worship with him.
A funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio, on Monday, April 3, with Fr. Larry Hemmelgarn, C.PP.S., the provincial director, presiding and Fr. Clarence Williams as homilist.