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Jay Ronal Wilson


Jay Ronal Wilson, 77, of Clearwater, FL passed away on July 8, 2018 with his loving family at his side. He was born in Pittsburgh, PA, the son of John Edgar and Dorothy Wilson and they moved to Livermore, California, when he was five. He graduated from Livermore High School in 1958 and Fresno State University in 1966. Ron enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1962, entering as an E1 aircraft mechanic and retiring as a Commander (O-5) in 1988. He graduated from Aviation Officer Candidate School and flight training in Pensacola, FL. Upon finishing his flight training, he was awarded his Wings of Gold, his naval aviator wings, in 1970. He was the Distinguished Naval Graduate for his outstanding performance in the flight training program. He also was a flight instructor at Whiting Field in Milton, FL in the Navy’s T-34C and T-38 airplanes. Ron served deployments in both the Mediterranean and the Pacific flew the P-3 Orion 4 engine aircraft. He was the commander of the Naval Facility Midway Island from 1979-1980. He graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, RI in 1979 and the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL in 1984. Ron’s last duty station was at MacDill AFB, where he served in J-5, Policy and Planning, at Central Command, retiring as a decorated Commander in 1988. After retiring from the Navy, he was a pilot with ComAir (Delta’s Regional Carrier) for ten years, flying all over the southeast United States and the Caribbean. Ron spent his post ComAir years building a cabin in Clarington, PA, traveling and enjoying time with his family. Ron was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and was a past president of the St. Petersburg Chapter, SAR.

CDR. Wilson is survived by his wife, Mary Anne Wilson, daughters Katherine Grundon, Sarah Wilson (Michael Loveless), Alicia LaMont (Marc), Kathryn Asbill (Earl), his brother Doug Wilson (Terri), and cousin Dave Beswarick (Debbie). His eight grandchildren are: Jeffrey Peters, Emily Peters, Tommy Grundon, Austin Asbill, C.J. Asbill, Mackenzie Asbill, Zachary Asbill, and Madelyn LaMont. His three great-granddaughters are: Haley Peters, Ava Peters, and Yanna Rock.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to Honor Flight.

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  • Sarah and Katie Wilson says:

    Jay Ronal (Ron) Wilson. CDR, USN (Ret.)

    Ron Wilson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1940, to John Edgar Wilson and Dorothy Zetler Wilson. He was a descendant of Thomas Wilson, who emigrated from Ireland and settled in the Pittsburgh area in the 1770s. Ron Wilson passed away in Clearwater, Florida, on July 8, 2018. He is survived by his wife Mary, his daughters, Katherine (Katie) Wilson Grundon and Sarah Wilson (Michael Loveless) and step-daughters Alicia Bonifay Lamont (Marc), and Kathryn Bonifay Asbill (Earl). He also is survived by eight grandchildren: Jeffrey Peters (Renee), Emily Peters, Thomas Grundon, Madelyn Lamont, Austin Asbill, CJ Asbill, Mackenzie Asbill and Zachary Asbill, and three great-granddaughters, Haley and Ava Peters and Yanna Rock. Ron also is survived by his brother Douglas (Doug) Wilson (Terri) and niece Kelly of California, and cousins David Beswarick (Debbie), Sue Ann Zimmerman Lehmkuhl, and Elaine Zetler Beck (Gordon).

    Ron moved with his family from Pittsburgh to Livermore, California, when he was a child. He attended local schools and graduated from Livermore High School in 1958. Following graduation from high school, he enrolled in Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California, and later attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. In 1966, Ron graduated from Fresno State College in Fresno, California, with a degree in Agricultural Engineering.

    Always interested in flying, Ron began taking private flying lessons as a teenager and soloed at the age of 18. He was the youngest person in California at the time to solo, and the local newspaper published an article about his accomplishment. He pursued his interest in flying while attending Fresno State College when he worked for a flight service at the Fresno airport and continued to take flying lessons, working on his multi-engine and instrument ratings.

    After graduating from college, Ron served as a co-pilot on a private plane owned by a golf course architect who was based in Fresno, California. This gave Ron many hours of flight time which was helpful a few years later when he began training to be a Navy pilot.

    In 1962, Ron began a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Navy when he enlisted in the Naval Reserve Weekend Warrior program. He attended boot camp and “A” School In Memphis, Tennessee, and after further training, was rated as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate (ADR) and assigned to a squadron at Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, where he was part the of the air crew on Neptune Patrol Planes (P2s). He was the plane captain for the P2 crew, and eventually he attained the rate of Airman 2nd Class (ADR2).

    When Ron graduated from Fresno State in 1966, his graduation gift to himself was a Jeep CJ5. He enjoyed four-wheeling along the Forest Service trails in the high back country of the Sierras in California and going on road rallies with the local Jeep club in Fresno. Later, the neighborhood kids loved riding in the Jeep when he pulled a trailer to the local dump.

    In 1968, Ron was accepted to Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) in Pensacola, Florida, and in December 1968 was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. He received flight training, first in Pensacola and then in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he received the gold wings of a Naval Aviator in January 1970. At that time he also was designated a Distinguished Naval Graduate. His daughter, Katie, was born while he was stationed in Corpus Christi.

    Ron’s first assignment after he received his wings was to VR-30, a transport squadron based at Alameda Naval Air Station, where he flew C131 transports. While he was stationed in Alameda, Ron’s daughter, Sarah, was born.

    After completing his tour with VR-30, Ron reported for training on the P3 prior to joining VP-19 at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, California. While stationed at Moffett, Ron participated in a deployment to Okinawa and two deployments to Subic Bay in the Philippines.

    The next assignment was shore duty, and Ron reported to VT-6, a training squadron based at Milton Field, near Pensacola. During that assignment Ron was able to pursue another of his interests – boating – and he spent many hours fishing, water skiing and exploring the bayous and bays around Pensacola.

    Following the time in Pensacola, Ron was assigned to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Admiral James Stockdale, who had been a POW in Vietnam for many years, was the Commandant of the War College, and it was Ron’s privilege to meet him.

    Ron graduated from the War College in 1979 and was assigned to Midway Island as the Commanding Officer of the Naval Facility there. Since this was a one-year unaccompanied tour, and Ron’s next assignment would be to VP-45 in Jacksonville, Florida, his family moved to Jacksonville to await his return from Midway. After Ron returned from Midway, he reported to VP-30 in Jacksonville for further training on the P3 and then joined VP-45. During his time in the squadron he served as squadron Maintenance Officer and was promoted to the rank of Commander. He participated in a deployment to Bermuda and two deployments to Sigonella, Sicily.

    After completing his tour with VP-45, Ron was assigned to the War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. After this one-year tour, he was assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

    In 1988, Ron retired, completing 26 years of distinguished service to his country. He still was not done with flying, though. He worked for another ten years as a captain for Comair, the Delta Airlines commuter airline, finally retiring so that he could pursue another lifelong ambition – to build a cabin in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

    There are many cabins and hunting lodges scattered throughout northern Pennsylvania, and Ron had always wanted to own one. He found land near Sigel, Pennsylvania, in Cook Forest near the Clarion River, about two hours north of Pittsburgh and began building his cabin. First, he built the garage so that he would have a place to store his tools while he worked. Over a period of several years the cabin, which he named Black Bear Lodge, took shape, with a beautiful rock fireplace and chimney, a restored antique gas stove, front and back porches for lounging, a fire pit behind the cabin for grilling steaks (one of Ron’s specialties), hummingbird feeders and bluebird houses. Ron’s younger daughter, Sarah, married her husband Michael Loveless there in the fall of 2001. The cabin is a work of art and a tribute to Ron’s work ethic and attention to detail.

    Ron enjoyed woodworking, and he built cradles and rocking horses for grandchildren, quilt racks for his daughters and a hope chest for his granddaughter. He even built sets of blocks for his grandchildren out of the scraps of cherry wood from his woodworking projects. He always found a way to improve something or make it work more efficiently – something his grandson, Jeff Peters, coined as “Grandpa-ing it up.” You could say his woodworking projects started 40 years ago when he built a logging truck for a nephew, Darren Howe. Darren is now grown, but the logging truck still survives, and Darren’s own children and his nephews play with the truck.

    Ron also had a passion for boating, fishing and being on the water. When he was young, he and his family would go fishing in the San Joaquin River delta in California and deep sea fishing out of San Francisco Bay. He and his brother Doug won fishing contests when they caught large striped bass while fishing in the Delta. When Ron returned to Jacksonville from his tour on Midway Island, he became interested in sailing and purchased his first sailboat, a 25-foot Cape Dory he named Kara – after his daughters, Katie and Sarah.

    Ron always loved dogs and from childhood almost always had a dog – from beagles (Beansie) and cocker spaniel mixes (Taffy) to a basset hound (Lance) and basset/poodle mix (Charlie) to his black lab (Samantha – [Sammy]) and Abby, a golden retriever. He loved all his pets and mourned when he no longer had them.

    Ron will be laid to rest with military honors in the Wilson family plot at Hebron Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh near the property originally settled by his ancestor, Thomas Wilson, and now occupied by Ron’s daughter, Sarah, and her husband Michael. Ron will be remembered by his family and friends as an organized and capable man who always seemed to know how to do things the right way, whether it was repairing an engine or building a cabin or anything in between. He could be impatient, but he loved his family, especially his great-granddaughters and didn’t even mind when the youngest, Ava, called him Peepaw. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.

    Safe flight, and may the wind always be beneath your wings.

  • Thomas Miller says:

    Ron was one of the most amazing and gracious people GOD ever created !
    I built the stone fireplace in the cabin near Sigel,PA. That was when I got to know this wonderful man and his beautiful family .
    Through the years after we would always try to get together for dinners and just great fellowship. Ron was very well read and I do not think he ever forgot anything once he read it.
    I remember when he was having trouble with his John Deere tractor at the camp. It would run and then all of a sudden it would quit for no reason. I remember him becoming very frustrated .
    Well,not long after he told me about it he said” I got it fixed ” ! “How did you do that”? I asked. “Tommy, you know that little hole in the middle of the gas cap”? “yes” “well I just took a pin and punched it out and that was all it took”! Folks had that been me I would have had another tractor because I would have taken a sledge hammer to it and beat it to death !!!! Not Ronnie-he had the patience and figured it out.
    He really loved his family and he had forgotten more about history than I will ever know and I love to study history. What a brilliant mind and what a gentile soul .
    My dear friend ” MAY CHOIRS OF ANGELS SING THEE TO THY ETERNAL REST ” !! We will always miss you until we get to meet on that Golden Shore !!
    I “KNOW” I am a better Man for having the HONOR of knowing you my dear friend !!
    Like the Poem Katie read at the funeral ” You have escaped the surly bonds of Earth and Touched the Face of GOD my friend” Like in the Poem High Flight (John McGee Jr.)