Eight Bells: Frederick H. Wilson, Jr.

Published on July 18th, 2017

Frederick H. Wilson, Jr. (Rick), noted college sailor and sailing supporter, died July 10 at the age of 90 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Racing as a young boy on Narragansett Bay, at what was then the famed Edgewood Yacht Club, Rick went on to be one of the top collegiate skippers in the country, winning the National Championship for Brown University in 1948, a title Brown has not won since.

Also in 1948, then Commodore of the Brown University Yacht Club, he was elected President of the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association. At a pivotal time in the history of the organization, Rick was chosen to bring together the Midwest and Pacific Coast associations together with what was the dominant East Coast organization, to form what is today the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (ICSA).

Unlike now, the President was an active racer, expected to balance his academics, racing and maintaining this labor-intensive administrative duty (admittedly, his grades suffered that year!) In 1976, he was inducted in the ICSA Hall of Fame for his competitive achievement.

Rick was an active racing member of Noroton Yacht Club (Darien, CT) in the early 70s, but his time was cut short with a job transfer. He regularly sailed Ensigns, battling against Jim Fox and Sandy McDonald for the top three spots while also doing many long-distance and Newport-Bermuda races.

His later sailing included several Marion-Bermuda races and one-design racing at the Orleans Yacht Club on Cape Cod where he participated into his 80s. Always eager to promote sailing, he developed what is now an active adult learn-to-sail program at OYC. He served his Cape community in numerous ways: an active leader in his church, the Orleans Historical Society, the Rotary Club and a long-time member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 54 years, Jane Key Wilson (Janie) four years ago. A true gentleman and certainly representative of the Greatest Generation, Rick served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy during World War ll. He was a devoted father to two daughters and one son as well as an active grandfather, attending games and regattas up until last year.

With deep regret but thanks for a life well-lived. – Peggy Wilson Hersam

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