On June 28, 2014, we sadly had to accept the passing of one of our organization’s most outstanding women, P/C Geneva Wilson, SN, of Gautier, Mississippi. This rare individual has been a shining example of what can be accomplished in this country with a solid work ethic and perseverance.
She was born Geneva Legate on 28 Feb. 1931 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, during the darkest days of the Great Depression, the daughter of an Oklahoma cotton farmer, with eight brothers and sisters. Always a bright and conscientious student, she overcame the hard times and was able to attend prestigious Baylor University for two years then finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma.
Geneva’s is survived by her husband, Robert Wilson, a retired Army officer who also speaks fluent Chinese. Robert served as an interpreter during the extended peace talks after the Korean War. The couple spent several years in Washington, D.C., while Robert worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Always driven to learning more about her world, Geneva studied at the University of Maryland while living in D.C. She also studied at the University of Frankfort in Germany for two years while her husband was stationed there. Adept at languages, Geneva became fluent in German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
When Robert retired from the Army in 1964, they returned to Oklahoma where Geneva started a 20-year career with the US Postal Service of Oklahoma City, rising to manager of carriers and ultimately postmaster. She retired as US Postmaster, attaining the US Post Office High Expectations Achiever Award.
Geneva also was an accomplished airplane pilot with an instrument rating flying many types of single engine airplanes. Somehow Geneva and Robert found time to raise five children plus two of their 15 grandchildren.
In 1992, the Wilson’s, both fully retired, moved to Gautier, Mississippi, and joined the Singing River Power Squadron in 1994. Geneva became an active boater, and within a few years she was selected for command of the squadron. Her leadership and dedication were superb, but her participation in the USPS Education program has become legendary. Since joining the squadron, except for a relatively short period when Geneva was hospitalized from a serious stroke, none of her squadron mates can ever remember a single boating class or vessel safety check event that Geneva was not actively present as a student, instructor, monitor or examiner. She entered the Junior Navigation Course with seven other squadron mates but was the only student to complete the course. She went on to be the only person from her squadron to achieve a full certificate in the 21st century. She truly was, and will always be remembered, as one of the great treasures of the United States Power Squadrons.
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