When it came to the subject of death, Lillian Karr Wilson would often joke about her husband, saying, “I’m not going till Bill goes.” Although she didn’t mean it literally, that is what ended up happening.
Having been married to her high school sweetheart, William “Wild Bill” Wilson, for 73 wonderful years, it is more than a little ironic that Lillian passed away just two minutes after he did.
The couple’s son, Doug Wilson from Lexington, Kentucky, told reporters, “We all look at it as a blessing because we’re having one funeral for both of them.”
Doug added that he would drive his mother from her nursing home to the nursing home where Bill was living regularly, despite the fact that they both suffered from dementia.
“It was difficult to moderate their conversations,” he said, “The last time I had them there was Christmas Day.”
Back in 1941, having dated in high school for a while, Lillian and Bill eloped and married.
Doug explained, “They ran off, decided to get married, and I don’t think either one of them had the blessings of their parents.”
After getting married, the couple moved to Harlan, where Bill took over as manager of Bower’s Department Store and resurrected his radio show.
Doug recalled, “He would say, ‘Hello, this is Wild Bill Wilson, your old red-headed, freckle-faced, snaggle-toothed, snuff-dipping buddy coming to you from Bower’s Department Store.'”
As well as the department store and the radio show, Bill busied himself with buying houses at foreclosure sales, then fixing them up for resale.
Meanwhile, Lillian was a teller at a bank but retired to do more hands on work and help her husband.
“She could do some of the rough carpentry work, but she would usually leave that to me. We had great times rehabbing houses together,” recalled Doug.
When Doug visited his father on Sunday, he found him on his deathbed.
He shared with reporters, “I wanted to talk to him, and I got down there in his face and held his arm, and he squeezed my hand a little bit. I just told him, ‘This is Wild Bill Wilson, your red-headed, freckle-faced, snaggle-toothed, snuff-dipping buddy.’ And underneath the mask there, he grinned real big. He heard it. I was glad of that.”
[Image credit: metronieuws.nl]