|John Wilson, Britt Wilson, Ann Rogers|
Friday, July 8, 2011
John Woods Wilson
My first really close friend at the University of Kentucky died on Tuesday evening. John Woods Wilson grew up in Anchorage, Kentucky, living his life by his own design. When I met John he seemed larger than life: so handsome, athletic, exciting, and warm. I remember pinching myself, thinking why someone so “cool” would spend so much free time with me? Twenty-five years later and so many miles and experiences between us, I know why. We never let go of our friendship. The last two times I talked to him, this past Thanksgiving and a longer conversation in January 2011, will always be etched in my memory. He called because he cared and he knew the feeling was mutual. With both of us struggling, we each listened to the other with compassion, knowing that life can be cruel but it is a beautiful thing to experience. He told me about his faith in God, I think a bit hesitantly, until I assured him that we both had evolved with our faith.
John took me to my first Grateful Dead concert. I remember driving from Missouri to Kentucky in late June after my freshman year, not knowing what I would see or experience. I clearly remember John telling me with a grin, “you’re a dead head, you just don’t know it yet.” It was perhaps the best Dead show I ever attended, probably because of John and Britt, John’s closest friend from high school. Later, when an aspiring student journalist for the Kentucky Kernel (UK’s student newspaper) wanted a picture to accompany his article on the Grateful Dead the three of us agreed. I managed to find the picture in a shoe box but the article itself, with quotes from the three of us, has disappeared over the last quarter of a century.
My dear friend’s life changed drastically in the Spring of 1988 when he was victim of a traumatic brain injury outside of the old Lynagh's Pub on Limestone. He was punched by a UK football player with John hitting his head full force against the concrete curb. My good friend went on to accomplish amazing things despite the life-long problems this injury caused him. He graduated with a biology degree, married, fathered two precious children, and worked hard to provide for his family and better himself. John and his father Tom are together in heaven where all is right and good.