23 Mar Robert Wilson Jr.
How does one summarize a legend?
Bob’s incredible journey began with his birth on October 5, 1940 at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California to Earla Mae (Biggs) and Robert Wilson Sr. Dividing his childhood between the California Bay Area and Salt Lake City, he attended West High and made the decision in October of 1957 to join the army at Fort Douglas; a decision that shaped the rest of his life. The army made Bob an M.P. and he served for six years in Italy and Germany after which he was discharged as an M.P. Specialist in 1963. Taking that interest in law enforcement he returned to the States and did police work for the city of Oakland and later the California Highway Patrol, where he took pride in being a motorcycle officer. During this time he received a Bachelors Degree in political science from Loyola University and a Masters degree in criminal justice from Cal Lutheran. In 1973, he signed up with the Coast Guard Reserves as a First Class Petty Officer. After OCS school he became an Ensign and went active duty from 1977 until 1980 serving in Boston, Washington D.C. and Alameda. Later he served as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve unit at Bodega Bay Calif, was also called up to active duty to train personnel going to Iraq during Desert Storm. A highlight of his career was serving as Executive Officer on a 378 foot high endurance cutter that was sailing through Alaska during his 2 weeks of active duty (usually a rarity for a reservist). Driving it home beneath the Golden Gate Bridge he said was one of the most remarkable moments of his Coast Guard career. He retired from the Coast Guard as a Commander in 1994 and was proud to have been retired by the (then) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili.
In his civilian life, Bob stuck with a life of law enforcement, serving as a chief of police for several colleges and universities in California, Washington, Utah and Texas. He also became a graduate of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He felt he had truly come full circle when he returned as the police chief at the University of Utah in 1996 to the same geographic location where he had begun his career in law enforcement- having enlisted at Fort Douglas which is now on the U of Utah campus. When Arthur K. Smith left as president of the University of Utah and went to the University of Houston, he asked Bob to come there as police chief, where he finally retired in 2005 before returning to his home in Bountiful. During his career was an acitve member of many professional organizations, and was president of his local Salt Lake City chapter of Kiwanas. An avid motorcyclist, riding with his Blue Knights motorcycle club was another great joy.
While his career was full of amazing accomplishments, his deepest joy and satisfaction came from his family. A deeply loved big brother, father, father-in-law, uncle, and grandpa, Bob loved his people passionately. He was a consummate story teller, regaling his family with tales from his wild ride in an animated way that kept his audience enthralled. His bear hugs, deep love, and boisterous support will leave a void for his family that will be impossible to fill. Their gratitude for him will also be unending.
Bob is survived by his sister, Peggy (and Paul) Ransdell, his brother Thomas Jones, his daughters Kathryn (and Joe) Wilson Pitta, and Jill (and James) Wilson Cauvier, his grandkids Taylor Pitta, and Sage, Jax, and Sydnie Cauvier.