Harriet Stephens Wilson

Harriet Stephens Wilson, 97, Lawrence, died at Brandon Woods on March 31, 2015, and at her request there will be no services.

She was born on May 6, 1917, in Topeka, Kansas, the first daughter of Harry and Senah Stephens. Her early education was in their Topeka neighborhood, and she graduated from Topeka High School. At the University of Kansas she earned an undergraduate degree and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, developed a love for Lawrence, and met her future husband, Paul E. Wilson. She later took graduate courses and was a teaching assistant in the English Department.

She and Paul married in Topeka in June of 1941, and subsequently moved to Ashland, Kansas, but their time in that community was cut short when he enlisted in the army in 1942. After the war they lived in Lyndon and Topeka, and moved to Lawrence in September 1957, when he accepted a professorship position in the KU Law School.

Later they spent a year in New York City, several months in Tucson, AZ, and five years in Taos, NM, where they co-owned the Taos Bookshop, surrounded with books, a dream life for them.
In 1982 the Wilsons returned to Lawrence, but she continued an out-of-print/rare book search service for over a decade. Her love of books defined many times in her life, and she volunteered for and chaired the Lawrence Library Sale for several years, always roping in any visiting family members.

Her death was preceded by those of her parents and her siblings, Paul, who died in the service of his country in 1945, Bonnie Jean Mix and Lois Sayler. Her husband Paul died in April 2001. Surviving are their four children, Betsy Marvin (Charles) of Atlanta, GA, Polly Orbin (Ron) of Prescott Valley, AZ, Eileen Unruh (Steve) of Lawrence, and David (Carol Ward) of Springville, US, as well as her eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Her family and friends will miss her dearly. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Lawrence Public Library.

Online condolences may be sent at rumsey-yost.com.

Messages & Condolences

From Fred & Lilian Six...

Dear Betsy, Polly, Eileen, and David:
Your mother was such a lovely person. Both of your parents enriched our lives. I have just finished re-reading Eileen’s moving, beautiful tribute to Paul delivered May 17, 2001at his memorial service. Your mother’s charm her intelectual interests, and her support of KU Law and her family will be lasting memories for us. We extend our deepest sympathy
Fred & Lilian Six

From robyn herzog...

Soo sorry to heat bout harriet she has a smile and soo sweet I’ll will miss her robyn

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