Former wrestling coach Pete Willson ’50 talked and walked with God. As a teacher and coach, Pete expected excellence, and in his coaching days led the wrestling team to many victories. Yet humility also marked Pete’s life. He had a humble, self-giving love learned from walking with the Savior. Pete’s former wrestler Brian Oxley ’73, M.A. ’75 and his wife Sally ’74 caught this facet of Pete’s character in their video.
Throughout his 89 years, Pete was devoted to serving others— whether it was repairing and painting homes, or sharing apples and cheese or produce from his garden. Gifted with a beautiful singing voice, Pete often sang hymns while he worked—I heard this special concert when he painted walls at my home.
In recent years, a degenerative kidney condition challenged Pete’s legendary vigor. Pete steadily refused to complain of it, but rather focused on serving others. He made regular visits to encourage old friends like Don Church '57, and talked with frequent visitors to his home, including former Wheaton wrestlers he coached and kept as friends. Andy Scott ’79 says of his former coach, “Pete knew who, and whose, he was—a precious child of God, whose relationships, resources, and entire self belonged to the God whose goodness could be trusted in all circumstances.”
Pete shared the gospel with neighbors through handwritten letters and conversation to the end. Up to the last month, each Sunday he was seen in the morning and evening College Church service with June Coray Will-son ’50, his wife of 69 years, along with his Bible filled with notes from years of listening to God.
Last spring, Pete and June visited Israel, a first-time journey made possible by friends. Pete wanted to walk where Jesus walked. We know, though, that Pete Willson always walked where Jesus walked—for him to live was Christ.