Leon McKee Wilson was born on Christmas Eve, 1908 at Puposky, MN to Bill and Emma Wilson. His name came from “Noel” spelled backwards and McKee was his mother’s maiden name. In the spring of 1911, the Wilson family came to Williams by train.
Leon attended Williams school for 8 years and had completed the 11th grade when his father became ill. At this time, he went to work in the woods with his dad to support his 10 siblings and parents. In 1936, he began work with the Lake of the Woods County Highway Department. In his 40+ years with the County, he built most of the roads in Lake of the Woods. He was known by many as the grader man or the snowplow man. At the time of his retirement from his positions at the county highway department, he was the longest serving employee in the history of Lake of the Woods County.
On June 12, 1936 he was married to Elvira D. (Holton) Hartnell. From this marriage there are 5 surviving daughters and his son-in-laws: Daisy Westover (Jack) of Baudette, Grace Sonstegard of Baudette, Judith Senkyr (Don) of Williams, Jane Anderson (Roger) of Isanti, and Mary Bagne (Gary) of Williams. From his children came 7 grandchildren and 4 adopted grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 3 adopted great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren. Elvira passed away in May of 1978.
Leon married Mae (McKinnon) Olson on August 4, 1979 and with this marriage came 1 son, Melford Olson of Baudette and 2 more granddaughters, GeriAnn and Kristen Olson.
In Leon’s lifetime, he traveled to 49 of the 50 states and all but 1 of the provinces of Canada. He kept the family provided with fish, venison, blueberries, and garden produce. Leon continued to enjoy gardening just until this last year.
Leon was a charter member of the Bethany Lutheran Church of Williams, which he helped build in 1936. He was also a sponsor for many that were baptized at Bethany. He was a council member/mayor of the village of Williams. He helped organize the Williams Volunteer Fire Department and served as fire chief for many years. He was a 4-H leader and helped organize Potato Day festivities in Williams, as he was president of the Williams Commercial Club at that time. In addition, he was a member of the Baudette Moose Lodge #742 and was Moose of the Year for the local lodge. Leon received many other honors in his lifetime, including Senior Citizen of the Year from Lake of the Woods County and Grand Marshall of the Potato Day Parade in 2001. In addition to being featured in both local newspapers, Leon was also honored to be the subject of articles for both the Grand Forks Herald and also Sporting Classics magazine. He was also a very active member of the Williams Senior Citizens, Senior Bowling league and the Friday night dances at the Brink Center until just recently. In his lifetime, Leon had many stories and experiences that he was still sharing with his family until the day he died.
Leon passed away quietly at the home of his daughter Grace (where he had made his home since Christmas), with his family by his side. Leon was 103, 6 months and 23 days old.
He is preceded in death by his 2 wives, Elvira and Mae; 1 infant daughter, Adeline Daisy; 1 grandson Jackie Leon Senkyr; his parents Bill and Emma Wilson; his parents-in-law George and Grace Hartnell; brothers Kenneth, Harlan, Leonard and Richard; and sisters Beatrice, Vera, Beulah, and Margaret.
As well as being survived by his daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Leon is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Funeral Service for Leon Wilson of Baudette, MN will be held on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM at Bethany Lutheran Church in Williams, MN. Visitation will be held Tuesday, July 24, 2012 from 5-7 PM at Helgeson Funeral Home in Baudette and also one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be held at Pine Hill Cemetery in Williams, MN.