William Robinson (Bill) Wilson, 96, of Naples, Fla. formerly of Princeton, passed away Thursday May, 19, 2011 at ImperialHealthCenter in Naples.
Born Dec. 8, 1914 in Audubon County, Iowa, Bill was the eldest of two sons born to Will G. and
Carrie Robinson Wilson.
Art, music, studying and swimming all came
easily to Bill in his youth. He received a bachelor of
science degree from IowaStateUniversity in 1938 where he enrolled in the Army Officer Training Corp. While in
college he married Helen Davis and later had two sons with her; Jack Wilson, a
pianist, conductor, and university professor, and Randy Wilson, a computer
professional and musician.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Bill was working as a
political cartoonist for a Des Moines, Iowa newspaper. The U.S. Army assigned him to be a
photographer for the Signal Corp. Bill was a captain who traveled much of North Africa and Europe with Allied troops. He became acquainted with Ernie
Pyle and was inspired by Ernie to tell the story of Americaís soldiers with his photos. One of Billís photos of
Allied antiaircraft guns firing on Axis bombers won numerous awards and hung in
the White House for many years.
Following the war, Bill continued as a
photographer and became a journalist and pilot as well. He wrote articles for
national magazines and interviewed many interesting celebrities and notable
military leaders. He traveled to Europe, South America, Pacific islands, and 49 of the 50 states. He
especially enjoyed visiting and photographing our National Parks and the
American west. Bill loved Zion, BryceCanyon, Yellowstone, Mesa Verde and lived for
many years in northern New Mexico. He was always interested in visiting new places and learning.
In 1995 Bill married Naomi Beckner and moved to Princeton, Naomiís hometown. Bill became an ordained deacon and elder, in the
First Presbyterian Church of Princeton. In 2005 Senator Dick Lugar announced
that the Library of Congress had accepted over 1,300 of Billís personal World
War II photographs. For several years a collection of Billís photos, cameras,
and other WWII memorabilia was displayed at the Evansville Museum of Arts,
History, and Science.
Bill is survived by his beloved wife, Naomi Beckner-Wilson of Florida; son Randy Wilson and his wife Cathy of California;
granddaughters, Jennifer Wolffing and her husband
Chris of Idaho, Rebecca Wilson of California; great grandson, Owen Wolffing
of Idaho; stepson, Alan Beckner and
his wife Renee of Naples, Fla.; and stepdaughter, Peg Beckner
Memorial services will be at Sunday, July 17, 2011 at Hillside United Methodist Church of Princeton.