Who's that old gorilla in a wide brimmed helmet riding a bicycle?
Richard Stanley Wilson wore many hats: lover, father, jester, ham, stern library ogre, history buff, and proof that King Kong was just a big monkey. Richard died at home in bed on Friday morning, April 29, 2016 of cancer. The memory of his funny faces — the troll and the gorilla — will pop up in our hearts for some time to come, to make us laugh.
Richard was a child in West Palm Beach Florida, a student at Florida State University, and a sailor in the U.S. Navy. He and Jane brought their family to Humboldt County in 1972 searching for a less prescribed (hippie) culture.
Richard worked in the Eureka Library, in the Garberville Branch Library, and in the bookmobile. When Proposition 13 cut his hours in 1978, he celebrated his shortened work week. All the better to spend time with Paul and Robin. The family lived on Pepperwood Springs Mountain, off the grid. Richard read to his boys, stooged around with them, and put them to work. He loved cutting firewood. After a little bit of library research, he devised and built a house. Richard achieved greatness as a husband and father. When he wasn’t reading aloud, he wormed his way slowly but steadily through history, archaeology, and political material.
2008: Arcata. The flat land, dancing at the farmers’ market, appreciating OLLI classes, taking walks on the dunes and in the marsh, plays and concerts were among his favorite things.
February started his three-month decline from a vibrant inquisitive athletic person to someone who needed help to walk and had trouble finishing a thought or a memory. He would have been happy to have lived longer, yet he was not afraid of death. He is survived by his lamb and two monkeys.
Richard was buried in a green grave on May 4. There will be no public memorial. Those who laughed with and loved him should celebrate his life in their own way with like-minded friends. Friends of the Arcata Marsh (P.O. Box 410, Arcata CA 95518) is accepting donations in Richard’s memory. At the Marsh, Richard led walks, staffed, helped with the lecture series, and served on the board. Friends are encouraged to smile in his memory.