“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. You lived your life so that when you died, the world cries and you rejoice.” Cherokee
W.A. “Big A” Wilson, Jr., 84, born April 15, 1931, passed on Saturday, April 9th at his home with family by his side. A 70 year member of Ninth Street Baptist Church, as a youth he had sung in the church choir and later was Director of the Training Union from 1962 through 1966. Mr. Wilson was preceded in death by his parents, W.A. Wilson, Sr. and Bessie Williams Wilson; brothers, Harvey and Jack Wilson; sisters, Sally, Fern, Alice, and his first wife, Geraldine Erwin Wilson and son-in-laws, Greg Rogers and Johnny Letterman. Survived by his wife, Sue Jean Peters Wilson; daughters, Kim Fortune and husband, Kenneth and Kathy Amanda Letterman; son, Anthony (Tony) Wilson; grandchildren, Nikki Letterman, Natalie Loftus, Kari Fortune Owens, Kimberly Fortune, John Letterman, and Heath Wilson; great grandchildren, Courtney, Joshua and Jared Loftus; Faith and Victoria Tipton, Skylar Letterman, and Malak Estep; step-daughter, Amy K. Graham and husband, Michael; step-son, Kevin B. Ayers; step grandchildren, Dakota H. Ayers; Madison and Olivia Kelly; sisters, Maxine W. Phillippi, Mildred W. Lyle and Helen W. Leach.
During WWII, W.A. set type at the Erwin Record helping Mrs. Broce publish the paper. His other duties were to fold and help deliver the papers. A 1950 graduate of Unicoi County High School, W.A. was awarded 47 football scholarships after scoring 148 points his senior year. He was the “Little Wigwam All American Football” recipient in 1950. “Big A” was one of only two freshmen General Neyland took to Texas when the Volunteers won the National Football Championship in 1951. As a local business man doing business at Gateway Shell, W.A. helped with the establishment of the Junior JC’s. Because of his love of sports and the development of young men, he sponsored a semi-pro basketball team, “The Gateway Bandits” and taught Golden Glove boxing. A fifty year plus member of the Erwin Elks Lodge, he served as Grand Exalted Ruler and saw that the Hoop-Shoot contest was held for each elementary school and that winners participated in the regional and state contests. He was a fifty year member of Centennial Lodge #471 and Jericho Shrine Temple. While working as District Manager for Wrigley Gum Company, W.A. served on the Unicoi County Board of Education for sixteen years, serving several terms as chairman. During his tenure on the Board, he worked tirelessly to see that the professional employees were provided medical insurance, and the construction of the new Unicoi County High School was completed. As a referee for TSSAA, he and his crew called high school and division 2 college football for over 53 years. W.A. was elected president of TSSAA Region I for the 1983 – 1984 year. From 1969 – 1970 he participated in the Highland Games at Grand Father Mountain and those held in West Virginia.
The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence as we offer tribute and remember the life of W.A. Wilson in a funeral service to be held at 5:00 PM, Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at Ninth Street Baptist Church. Dr. Chris Ward will officiate. A visitation period to share memories and offer support to the family will begin at 2:30 pm and will continue until service time on Wednesday at Ninth Street Baptist Church. Masonic Services rendered by Centennial Lodge #491 F & A.M., Erwin, TN with Brother Carlyle Love and Brother Doug Clark officiating with Chaplain David Burgner. A committal service will be held at 11:00 AM on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in the Mausoleum Chapel of Evergreen Cemetery. Those who plan to attend will meet at Valley Funeral Home by 10:30 AM to go in procession to the Mausoleum of Evergreen Cemetery. Active pallbearers will be John Letterman, Heath Wilson, Glenn White, Larry Williams, Larry Rose, Eddie Manful, and Phil Erwin. Honorary pallbearers will be Joe Koontz and John Simpson. The family wishes to thank Hannah Counts, his Hospice nurse; the staff of Wound Care at JCMC; the staff of UCMH Long Term Hall I; the staff of Unaka Internal Medicine and Med 1. for their care of W.A. during his illness.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Blue Devil Gridiron Club in memory of W.A.’s love for Blue Devil Football, 700 S. MOHAWK DRIVE, ERWIN, TN 37650. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at www.valleyfuneralhome.net. These arrangements are made especially for the family and friends of W.A. Wilson through Valley Funeral Home, 1085 N. Main Ave., Erwin, 423-743-9187.