A memorial celebration of life visitation for Donald Duane “Don” Willson, 70, Lawrence, will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home & Crematory.
Mr. Willson died Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, of heart failure at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
He was born Aug. 21, 1941, in Hoisington, Kan., the son of Lawrence and Pearle Thoman Willson. He attended schools in Hoisington and Ellinwood, and graduated from Winfield High School in 1959. He later graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in math education. He went on to earn his first master’s degree in mathematics from Pittsburg State University in 1971, and a second master’s in school administration from Wichita State University.
Mr. Willson spent 45 years as a public school educator in Kansas and Colorado. He taught math for many years at Newton High School, as well as Washburn University and Ottawa University. He was an assistant principal, athletic director, principal, and assistant school superintendent, eventually retiring as Superintendent of Schools in Concordia. After retiring, he taught math at Lawrence Free State High School. He was a member of Rotary Club, a Paul Harris fellow, the Elks Club, and served as president of the National Association of Athletic Directors from 1978-79. He was a former head high school and college football coach, and a high school wrestling coach. He was an avid 30 year Canadian fisherman, enjoyed traveling adventures and 14 cruise vacations, and was the ultimate University of Kansas Jayhawk fan. At the age of seven, he started listening to Jayhawk basketball games on the radio, even getting in trouble for kicking the family radio after a Jayhawk loss.
He married Carol Otto in 1964, and together they had three children. He later married Gay Gregg in 1982. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include three children, Sheri Burge and husband Chris, Overland Park, Debbi Croxton, Kansas City, Mo., and Brad Willson and wife Lesley, Overland Park; two brothers, Wayne, Weatherford, Okla., and Garrell, Loveland, Colo.; and 14 grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and grandparents Lorena and Clyde Thoman and Ida and Floyd Willson.
As Don was a child polio survivor, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Rotary International Polio Plus Program, in care of the funeral home, 601 Ind., Lawrence, KS, 66044.