Barbara Wilson

By The Mercury

Barbara King Wilson, 97, died Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the Meadowlark Hills-Wroten House in Manhattan. She was born to Thomas Laing King and Imo Blakestad King on May 20, 1917, in Topeka.  She was preceded in death by her husband J. Robert Wilson. 

Barbara attended Washburn University where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, serving as president. She was elected to Nonoso, a women’s honorary society, and was also a member of the Topeka Junior League.

While her husband, Bob, served in the Army overseas, she worked in the Santa Fe Railway offices in Topeka. She then joined Bob in Germany and she taught English to children after World War II. In 1947, the Wilson’s moved to Manhattan and bought an abstract office and insurance business from Sen. Sam Charlson. The firm became known as Charlson and Wilson.  Barbara worked there with her husband.  Bob Wilson died in 1982.

She was a member of the Washburn University Board of Trustees, serving as chairwoman. 

She served on the Washburn University Alumni Association. She was for many years a member of the Manhattan Library Board. During her tenure at the library, the old Carnegie building was sold and a bond issue for the new building was successfully promoted and plans for the current Manhattan Public Library were completed.

She was the first woman to serve on the Kansas State University Foundation Board Executive Committee, serving as secretary.

She and her husband were the first husband-wife recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award at Washburn University.

She was also the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from Washburn University. She helped found a new chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta at Kansas State University in 1961 and served as chairwoman of the House Corporation Board. She and her husband were founding members of the Landon Lecture Patrons.  She was a founding member of the Board of Visitors at the Beach Museum of Art at K-State and was a member of the museum’s Art Advisory Board. She has volunteered for many Manhattan agencies including Girl Scouts of America, hospice, reading programs at Lee Elementary School and the International Students Association at K-State.

She and her husband established tuition scholarships at Washburn University, Washburn University School of Law and Kansas State University.  She was a member of Chapter BD PEO and the First Presbyterian Church and AAUW.  She lived at Meadowlark Hills since 2000.

She is survived by her two children, Nancy Wilson Wight and husband Jim, Matfield Green, and Dr. Thomas King Wilson and wife Jan, Salina. There are four grandsons, JW Wight (Tammi), Scottsdale, Ariz., Robert Wight (Tana), Rosalia, Christopher Wilson (Anna Allen), Shawnee, Jeffery Wilson (Allison Dolan), Lowell, Mass.; eleven great-grandchildren, Braden, Riley, Peyton, Isabella, Trey, Coulton, Nina, Liam, Cormac, Margaret, Emersyn; and relatives, Jane Ellen and Bob Stevens, Durham, N.C., and Jamie Stevens and Brooke Lewis, Chicago.

Cremation is planned. A memorial service will be 10:30 a.m. Friday, August 15, at the First Presbyterian Church, 801 Leavenworth St. in Manhattan.

The Rev. R.C. McConnell will be officiating. Barbara’s ashes will be scattered by the family on her daughter’s ranch.

Memorials have been established for the Manhattan Public Library and for the Meadowlark Hills- Good Samaritan Fund.

Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502.

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