H. Clyde Wilson

H. Clyde Wilson, Jr., 83 of Columbia died Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at home after a long illness. 

A memorial service is planned for 4:00 p.m., Sunday, April 11, 2010 at the Missouri Theater on the corner of 9th Street and Locust, Columbia, Missouri. 

He was born May 6, 1926 in Proctor Texas to the late Houston Clyde Wilson, Sr. and Lena B (Purvis) Wilson.  On August 24, 1957 he married his wife of 52 years, Betty K. Wilson in Ann Arbor Michigan and she survives him of the home.  Clyde is also survived by his brother, Ray Wilson, four sons, Thomas H. Wilson, David A. Wilson, James A.Wilson and Benjamin C. Wilson; one daughter Anne K. Ferrell; four daughters-in-law, Cecilia Laura Wilson, Mary Lee Anderson, Carmen Abara Wilson and Lynn O’Brien Wilson plus one son-in-law Sean Ferrell, plus 11 grandchildren, Ana Wilson, Kevin Wilson, Luke Wilson, Luis Wilson, Manuel Wilson, Lena Wilson, Alan Wilson, Benjamin Wilson Jr., Katherine Wilson, Eva Ferrell and Sage Ferrell. 

Clyde was raised in Waco Texas; and attended Texas A&M University where he received his BA in Mathematics in 1949 followed by his attendance at the University of Texas where he received is M.A. in Anthropology in1953 and finally attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he received his Ph.D in Anthropology 1961.  Dr. Wilson joined the University of Missouri faculty in 1961 and thereafter founded the Department of Anthropology in 1966 and served as the first Chair of the Department. He retired as full professor in 1997 and became Professor Emeritus of the Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri.  Since that time he served as Associate Curator, NAGPRA Program, MU Museum of Anthropology coordinating the repatriation of Native American human remains.  Inspired by Leslie White, he developed an emphasis in cultural evolution beginning as a Research Anthropologist with the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Dulce New Mexico 1958-1960.

He was a fellow with the American Anthropological Association, an associate with Current Anthropology Society and a member of the Ethnological Society.  He was awarded the MU Peace Studies Professor of the Year Award for 1998.

In addition to his academic career, Clyde Wilson cultivated a life long interest in public service beginning with a campaign for U.S. Congress in 1970 in the midst of the Vietnam War era.  This experience inspired him to run successfully for one of the four city council seats in 1971.  Three successful re-election campaigns followed, culminating in his election in 1979 to a two-year term as mayor of Columbia. His service occurred during a time when Columbia was undergoing a renaissance reflected by (among other things), addressing civil rights issues, land use conservation and being instrumental in the conception of the Katy Trail.  After leaving office, he remained active by serving on various city commissions and in the East Campus Neighborhood Association.  He has long been a role model for others, inspiring them to become involved in public service in promotion of progressive issues, and as a true example of integrity, vision, and commitment to others.  Memorial contributions can be made to the Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, 107 Swallow Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 towards the establishment of a scholarship to honor Dr. Wilson; Peace Works of Mid-Missouri; or The Salvation Army.


  1. Janet Berkley on March 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Betty and Family, I’m so sorry to hear about Clyde. When I think about my childhood on Wilson Avenue, I have many fond memories of Clyde. He always had such a great smile and a kind word. Know that my thoughts are with your family at this time and may you find that the love and peace within your family will comfort you in the days to come.
    Much love,
    Janet (Berkley) & Paul Quillen

  2. Barbara Gordon on March 31, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    sorry for your loss
    My thought and prayers go out to you and your Family

  3. Jane & Anthony Addison on March 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Dear Betty, You & Clyde meant so much to us in our eleven years in Columbia. We are so sorry to hear of his demise.

  4. Liz Toth on March 31, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Clyde, I will TRUELY miss you!!! I have been SOOOO blessed by having you in my life!!!

  5. Thomas Dillingham on March 31, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Clyde Wilson was a giant whose presence was a constant reassurance of kindness, generosity, reasonableness, and a thoughtful concern for others. Loss of him is personally painful but is also a loss to the whole community of Columbia–we all will miss him.

  6. Ray & Dorothy Wilson on March 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Our thoughts have been & remain with your family

  7. Tom Krynski on March 31, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    My thoughts go out to Clyde’s family. He was a true gentleman who tried to make a difference.

  8. Laura and Nicholas Gatzionis on April 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    We are truly saddened for your family’s loss of such a fine man and patriarch. We know he will be greatly missed by his many children and grandchildren. Our condolences, Laura, Niko, Sophia, Natalia and Harry Gatzionis in Athens, Greece

  9. Walter Hartwig on April 1, 2010 at 12:28 am

    My heart goes out to Betty, Ben, Anne, and the many Wilsons I never had the pleasure to meet. Your husband and father was one of my first points of contact with anthropology, with Columbia, with East Campus, and with a kind of family that I never had but always wanted. Professor Wilson embodied so much of the positive energy of those circles. He was respected, profoundly. I’ll never forget the home on Wilson Avenue that he (and all of you) extended to me. Peace be with you, the blessed inheritors of this man who made a difference. Many differences.

  10. Wilkie OBrien on April 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Hello Betty, Clyde “fought the ’good fight’ throughout his adult life. It has been a long battle for you both of late. God bless you and your entire family. Wilkie

  11. Sylvie Eyral on April 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Dear Ann and Sean, David and family and your mom,
    My heart goes out to you at this time of your loss. I hold you in my thoughts and prayers with love,

  12. Andrew and Julie Melnyk on April 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    We were deeply saddened to learn yesterday of your terrible loss. Please accept our deepest sympathy.

  13. John Lande on April 2, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Betty, I was so sorry to hear about Clyde. I wish you and your family the best as you deal with your loss.


  14. John Lande on April 2, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Betty, I was so sorry to hear about Clyde. I wish you and your family the best as you deal with your loss.


  15. Ann Harrell on April 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Dear Betty,

    My sincerest condolences for your loss. I have fond memories of Clyde from the after Choral Union parties at your house. My thoughts are with you. I regret that I will not be able to attend the Memorial. One of my students will be giving a senior recital that afternoon.

    Warm regards,

    Ann Harrell

  16. Carmen Fast on April 3, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Betty, my deepest sympathy for your lost. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. God Bless

  17. Duke Hadusek on April 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    David, may God be with you ,your Mom and all of your family at this tough time , so sorry to hear of your dad’s passing- your friend Duke.

  18. Anne Schmidt on April 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Dear Betty,
    I just saw Clyde’s notice online and wanted to convey my sympathy to you and your family. I remember hearing about the ongoing involvement he had in Columbia for many years. And you were a good support to me during my divorce as my atty. I now live in western Colorado in a happy 15 yr. marriage. As a hospice social worker, I have found a perfect niche. Take the best of care, Anne

  19. Gerry and Mary Jo Westwood on April 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

    We join Clyde’s many friends and associates to express our deepest sympathy.

  20. Jim Hopgood on April 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    It was sad news to learn of Clyde’s recent death. I was one of his students at MU from 1963-67, and it was one of my favorite teachers. He inspired my interest in cultural anthropology and evolutionary theory. I last spoke with Clyde at an annual meeting of the Amer. Anthro. Assoc. several years ago and it was it was great to catch up after many years.

  21. Lane Van Ham on April 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Like anyone who lived in Columbia after Clyde became mayor, I am greatly indebted to him for his achievements in that office. I am also pleased to say that I am indebted to him as a graduate of MU’s Anthropology program. I went on to earn a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, where I used many concepts that I was first exposed to in Clyde’s classes. I regard his vision and generosity as models to be emulated. My condolences to all of you in this difficult moment.

  22. Tracey Lowry Steele on April 8, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Dear Anne, Betty and the rest of the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Wishing you much love and peace in these difficult days ahead. Love, Tracey

  23. Cheryl Nichols on April 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    So sorry for your loss, Betty and family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  24. DARRELL JORDAN on April 12, 2010 at 7:09 am

    To Tom and the Wilson family, I know there are no words that truly express how you after the loss of a loved one. My heart goes out to the family.I remember the time when I first came to Lee school,one of the first families to welcome me at Lee was the Tom Wilson and Jim Berkley. This was during the 1st year of integration. I am so blessed to have known such a great family.Peace to each and every member of that family.

    Darrell Jordan

  25. Nancie L Gonzalez on May 31, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Dear Anne: I am so grateful to you for having called me so that I might talk with him briefly back in March. He had asked me to call again on Monday, but when I got no answering machine or human response after about 12 rings, I was devastated, for I was sure it was too late. It has taken me this long to dare look for his obituary, but I want you to know that I have thought about you all ever since then. Please know that I share your grief and will always remember him. I am sending a contribution to the University.

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