Good morning everyone. Thank you so much for coming and celebrating the life of Ronald Wilson. It’s so weird calling him Ron, because as some of you know, Im his grandson and I’ve always known him as Pappap. So from now on, when you hear Pappap, you know I’m speaking about the Legend of Washington, Pa, Ronald Wilson. I have the honor and the privilege of leading his funeral this morning and I’m glad to be sharing this moment with you all. Let’s open this with prayer: Jesus, we thank you for bringing us all here this morning. We pray that you would bless this time and that we would get to share in the laughs and tears of the 79 wonderful years of Ron’s life. Amen.
Ronald L. Wilson, also known as Husband, Dad, Pappap, Fireman, Hero, and the most stubborn man to have walked planet earth.
Ronald L. Wilson, 79, of Washington, died Tuesday, October 16, 2018, in the Donnell House. He was born on October 21, 1938, in Washington, a son of the late Roy and Doris Vandegrift Wilson. Ron was part owner of C. Bennett Auto Supply and He was a member of West Washington United Methodist Church.
He was an active firefighter for North Franklin Volunteer Fire Company for 30 years, served in several different offices, and retired as assistant chief, as well as remaining a life member. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, he was a member of American Legion Post 175, Arms Club, Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 22, and the Covered-Bridge Region of Antique Automobile Club of America. It’s clear that Pappap not only served his country, but he also served his community.
Ron married Susan Lott, who survives.
Also surviving are two daughters, Holly R. Boothby and Wendy S. Wolfe, both of Washington; grandchildren, myself, Justin and Lauren Boothby, Joshua Boothby and Makala Amalato, Christopher Wolfe and his fiance Lauren Beels, and Brandon Wolfe; as well as sons-in-law, Roger W. Boothby and Keith Wolfe.
February 27th, 1959 is a day that changed the course of history. It was the day that my Nana and Pappap became Husband and Wife. It’s one of the many reasons I’m standing here before you today. But before Nana and Pappap married I have to tell you how they met…and you’re going to love it!
When I talked with Nana on Wednesday, this was the first thing she told me about and it reminded me that yes, even Nana and Pappap were teenagers at one time and did all the fun and silly things I did as a teenager…including spin the bottle. That’s right. Nana and Pappap met at Norma Jean West’s birthday party playing spin the bottle when they were 15 years old…and yes, Nana spun the bottle to Pappap.
Even though they didn’t officially date seriously the next 5 years, they would still communicate when they could. In 1956 pappap went into the Army and was stationed for most of his time in Germany. I’ve learned that they would write back and forth to each other because Pappap wanted someone else to write to other than his mom and dad.
Pappap came home in January of 1959. Now if you’re paying attention, you’ll recognize what’s coming next. Yes, just 4 weeks and 1 day later Nana and Pappap got married in Winchester, Va at Reverend Duggar’s Parsonage on February 27th, 1959. Nana and Pappap married at age 20 and 19, respectively, and they would go on to make marriage work for the next 59 and a half years! This is in and of itself an incredible testimony.
Over the course of the next decade Nana and Pappap had my Mom, Holly, and my Aunt Wendy. Then, in 1970, the Wilsons moved to 12 Grove St., which is the same house his grandfather built, which is still there today. It was the same year that Pappap joined the North Franklin Volunteer Fire Company, where he would become an active Fireman for 30 years.
Now I’m not sure how many of you here today knew Pappap well, but after living in the Washington area his entire life, he knew everyone within a 20 mile radius of Washington, Pa. Now, imagine being his daughter as a teenager. My mom would tell me stories about how she couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone Pappap knew. Apparently someone thought they saw mom out somewhere and told Pappap. Mom felt like she couldn’t do anything without Pappap finding out. There’s a reason us grandchildren thought Pappap may be involved in some sort of WashPa Mafia…We were wrong…I think? But Pappap was certainly a devoted husband and father, albeit a strict one, and most definitely a devoted fireman.
He was so devoted to being a fireman that he answered a fire call on the day of my mom’s wedding and held them up getting to the church on time. Then, when the reception was over, no one could find Pappap and everyone wondered, “What happened to Ron?” So my Mom and Dad were about to leave without them. As soon as they opened up the car door they found Pappap waiting there with his suitcase as if he was going to go on the honeymoon with them. Of course, everyone else knew what Pappap was doing so they all ran out to see my mom and dad’s faces.
Pappap was a blessed man because at one time or another he had 4 grandsons running around his house and yard. And I’m sure Nana can defend me here when I say…we were all crazy! The patience that Nana and Pappap must have had for us would exceed the deepest oceans. But he was also a blessed man because for almost 20 years, he could have had any one of us cut his grass for him…though it was never cut the way he wanted and he would make sure we knew that.
Though we were never able to cut the grass right or trim the hedges properly, Pappap always supported us. You’re all probably wondering why I’m wearing this shirt today instead of a nice shirt and tie. Well it’s in honor of our biggest supporter. There was a day when 3 of us boys had baseball games at the Washington Park and Pappap was insistent on seeing all of us play. So he and Nana wore all three of our shirts, one on top of the other, so that they could easily change and support our respective teams.
Pappap wasn’t a rich man. And I know he wasn’t a rich man, because every time I called him on Friday afternoon, he was losing money at Poker.
But Pappap was incredibly rich with family in friends. He didn’t grow up with any brothers or sisters, but he considered Layton Wise and the late Harry Ritchie as his brothers. And every time we got together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, Pappap would always get a little emotional and would say how thankful he was to have his family all together. And though he rarely said it outloud, he loved all of us and wanted us to have a better life than he had.
I grew up going to the church that Pappap went to at the West Washington United Methodist Church. Though I wasn’t there my whole life, I know how important that church was to him. Let’s be honest, Pappap wasn’t the most spiritual person in the world. And I’m guessing Nana dragged him to church pretty often. Nevertheless, Pappap went and heard the stories of Jesus and the story of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.
Redemption. If you all leave here today with one word, I want it to be redemption. It’s defined as, “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.” We all have done things we wish we could take back. We all have made errors and mistakes that haunt us to this day. I’m sure Pappap wishes there were so many things he could have done differently throughout his life. And yet, each week he went to the place where Redemption can happen.
Psalm 130:7 says, “Put your hope in the Lord, because with God is unfailing love and with him is abundant redemption.” I believe that Pappap, even though he wasn’t vocal about it, put his hope in the Lord. He believed that one day things could be made right and that he would get to experience abundant redemption – that all of his mistakes and errors could be forgiven.
But I don’t think he realized that the very second he put his hope in the Lord that Jesus had already forgiven him. We often think that Jesus redeems us for Heaven only. We say a prayer and all is forgiven and we live out our lives until Heaven. But Jesus says in John 11, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live…even if he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Redemption has come to us now, here, today. We don’t have to wait to experience it one day in the future. Jesus forgives us today so that we can live a life of freedom and redemption – so that we can offer that same freedom and redemption to others – to bring Heaven to Earth. We are told to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, and slander. To be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Jesus forgave us because we are new creations in Jesus. We aren’t the same person anymore…we’re new!
Today, we celebrate the life of Pappap who is very much a new creation right now. It’s fitting that Pappap’s two favorite hymns we’re How Great Thou Art and Up From The Grave He Arose. Because yes, God is great and faithful, but just like Jesus rose from the grave, so we who put our trust in Jesus will rise at the resurrection. Because Jesus rose from the grave, we have a guarantee that we’ll see Pappap again one day…and if he doesn’t have his mustache back, I’m gunna be really upset!
I want to close with this: Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God because of what Jesus has done for us.”
Today Pappap is experiencing that love of Jesus in ways he probably never expected. But you don’t have to wait like Pappap to experience and share the love of Jesus. If you choose, you can bring freedom and hope to your life and those around you. You have the power to bring redemption to your life and your world today.
Let’s pray: Lord, we thank you for the life of Pappap and for the impact he had on this world. We have seen the result of his life over the last couple days and how much he meant to so many people. We thank you that he is now experiencing your love and joy with all of his loved ones who have gone before him. Jesus, we ask that you would cause us to love and forgive others, as you have loved and forgiven us so that we can live a life of Freedom., Of love, of hope, and redemption.