Wilson’s efforts as President of the United States Philatelic Classics Society helped make the past few years among the best ever for this organization. Our membership has grown in each of the past two years, something that few other philatelic organizations can claim. We are on a firm financial footing. In addition, Wilson spearheaded the development of the Chase Fund, which is used to finance special, board-approved projects, not for operating expenses. The fund was used to establish the USPCS room at the new American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and as seed money for the publication of our now-sold-out book on the 1851 issue, to which Wilson was also a contributing author.
Wilson had a successful career first as a naval officer and then as a corporate executive. He joined the National Postal Museum, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, in 2002. As curator of philately at the NPM, Wilson established the goal “to access the inaccessible.” Through his work, philatelists were able to view part of the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, and, most recently, the entire Benjamin Miller Collection of the New York Public Library, unseen for the past 30 years. In the same vein, more and more of the NPM philatelic collections are being placed online and made accessible to all. While serving the needs of serious philatelists, Wilson also saw the importance of making stamps and stamp collecting a popular pursuit. He appreciated the appeal that the childhood stamp collection of John Lennon would have in reminding people that stamp collecting is a hobby for everyone.
Wilson’s work as a philatelic student and author was repeatedly recognized by our society. He was awarded Carroll Chase Cup in 1999 and the Elliott Perry Cup in 2005. He also shared awards for the best Chronicle articles on stamps and postal history in 1996 and 2005 and was a sole winner in 1997 and 2002. He was awarded the Lester Brookman Cup for outstanding service to the society in 1997. The society named Wilson as a Distinguished Philatelist in 2003, where he joined only 41 others to be so named since the inception of the award in 1988.
I was very fortunate during the past three years to spend much time with Wilson. Our philatelic paths crossed in many ways. In the course of certain weeks, it was not unusual for us to speak several times a day. On those occasions, when answering a call from me, Wilson would wryly quip, “Hey, long time!” I sorely miss his wise counsel, his easy demeanor and his friendship.
I’m sure that all Society members share my feeling that there is now a big hole in our collective album, one that will never be filled.–Wade E. Saadi
Donations to USPCS in memory of Wilson may be sent by mail to:
The U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, Inc.
c/o Wade E. Saadi
PO Box 750368
New Orleans, LA 70175-0368
– or – visit our Donations page for more info