Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Deacon Chuck Wilson: 1919-2010

the Inland Register

(From the Feb. 4, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Estelle and Deacon Chuck Wilson in 2003 (IR file photo by Deacon Eric Meisfjord)

Deacon Chuck Wilson, a member of the diocese’s first deacon ordination class, died Jan. 22 in Burlington, Wash., where he had moved in retirement. He was three days short of his 91st birthday.

A Celebration of Life was held at St. Charles Church, Burlington, on Jan. 26. The funeral Mass was celebrated there the next day. Interment took place later at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Deacon Wilson was born Jan. 25, 1919 to Claude and Mary Wilson in Gays, Ill. At the age of 20, while searching for work, he rode his Indian motorcycle to Idaho, where he met Estella Schumacher. On Jan. 8, 1945, Chuck and Estella married and stayed by each other’s side for 60 years.

Following six years of service in the Navy during WWII, Chuck and Estella settled in Greencreek, Idaho, to start their family. They moved to Spokane in 1955, where they raised their six children.

With only a sixth grade education, Chuck claimed to be a master of no trade, yet he received much praise for his work in carpentry, cabinet making, plumbing, electrical, welding, painting, auto and truck repair. He put his handyman skills to work for 10 years at Immaculate Heart Retreat House (now Center) in Spokane, followed by 12 years at Welk Bros. Metal Products, until his retirement in 1981.

He loved spending time with his family in the outdoors. Weekends were often spent camping in his self-built camper at favorite lakes or near mountain streams. As if a monument to his craftsmanship, the camper he built in 1968 is still in use today, some 42 years later.

Much more important than his handyman skills was Chuck’s devotion to his faith and his call to minister to the needs of the poor. In 1978 he was ordained a deacon. In retirement years, Deacon Chuck and Estella traveled around the United States and overseas, and spent winters working with missions in Topawa, Ariz., and with the poor at Casa Franciscana in Guaymas, Mexico. They also enjoyed working several years with the Catholic parish in Oroville, Wash., before settling in Port Angeles, near family.

He spent the final years of his life in Burlington, Wash., under the loving care of his son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Rosemary.

Deacon Wilson truly lived out the admonition found in Matt 25:35-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

“With profound gratitude and sadness, I learned of Chuck’s death,” said Bishop Skylstad. “On behalf of our diocesan family, and especially our diaconal community, and myself, I extend to his family our prayerful sympathy and thanks to God for the gift of his life and ministry among us.

“His example as a humble, dedicated servant and deacon of the Church was truly outstanding,” said the bishop. “His gentleness, generosity and genuine love of all of God’s people were traits of both Chuck and his wife, Estelle. They truly were a diaconal couple.

Deacon Wilson was a member of the first deacon ordination class in the Spokane Diocese. Bishop Skylstad called him “one of the pioneers of saying ‘yes’ to this wonderfully restored ministry in our Church.

“One of my prized possessions is a case for a crosier that was given to me from the priests in the Diocese when I returned to Spokane,” Bishop Skylstad said. “When Chuck saw I had no case, he quickly offered to build one. Twenty years later the case continues to serve me well.

“May he rest in peace.”

Deacon Wilson is survived by three sons and daughters-in-law: Bob and Sundee Wilson (Red-mond), Tom and Rosemary O’Brien-Wilson (Burlington), and Joe and Robin Wilson (Belling-ham); three daughters and sons-in-law: Mary and John Murcar (Spokane), Rachael and Dave Robinett (Kent), and Susan and Pete Waldrip (Port Angeles); one brother, Franciscan Father Methodius Wilson; one sister, Dorothy Wassmuth; 20 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, his wife Estella, a brother Joseph and two sisters: Margaret and Rosemary.

Deacon Wilson and Estella chose to live their lives as an example of selfless giving. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be given in Deacon Wilson’s name to support the poor in Haiti.

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