In Memory of Michael Willson ’60

Louisville – Yes, there are 2 Ls in Willson! Mike died March 7, age 80. Born in Columbus, Ohio, in July of 1938; he was a graduate of U. of Ill where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. In 1961, Willson was selected as one of the first volunteers in the newly formed Peace Corps under the first director and one of the founders of the Peace Corps, R. Sargent Shriver. Following training at Rutgers University and meeting with President Kennedy at the White House, he and 61 other volunteers were assigned to Colombia, South America, where they worked in a rural community development program for two years. After that and a few years working in Chicago, Willson and his wife, Suzanne Brown of Carbondale, IL, lived in Panama and Venezuela where he worked for Grant Advertising and later, Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company. B&W moved the family to Louisville in 1969. Willson later was Advertising/Marketing Director for Kentucky Fried Chicken in Louisville until his retirement in 2000.

Mike was active in the Louisville Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Assn., Sierra Club and Audubon Society. He and his family were proud of his 25+ years of sobriety and celebrated this with friends. Always a sincere believer, the fact that the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016 made things complete for him. But he deeply loved his companeros of Colombia One and said that the Peace Corps experience was pivotal in his life.

Mike was preceded in death by two sisters: Laurie Flyte of Chicago and Jill Landem of Colorado, and by his son, Matt Willson of Louisville, Phoenix and Denver. He is survived by his sister, Haley Simon of Chicago, and two brothers, Peter Willson of Naperville, IL, and Mark Willson of Hinsdale, IL.

Pearson Funeral home is handling but there will be no service. In lieu of flowers, Mike would have appreciated contributions to any environmental or wildlife organization, animal shelter, or your own favorite charity.