TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

George Hugh Wilson

July 5, 1922 - December 27, 2017

George was a musically gifted family man and a native son of Ohio, who dedicated his life to excellence in music education. He passed away of natural causes at his residence. He died listening to music and surrounded by family.

George was the fifth of seven children born to Jesse Mae Conaway and Austin James Wilson. He grew up on the family's farm south of Circleville, Ohio. George and his siblings did farm chores before and after school and in the summers. At Pickaway Township School, he played center on the basketball team and took advantage of a thriving music program that included free music lessons and opportunities to sing in operettas. In 1940 he began school at Ohio State University, where he majored in music. Schooling was interrupted from 1943-1946 by a stint in the Army/Air Force in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he played bassoon in the Army band.

By the time he left for the Army, George had already met Jean Jackson, his class piano teacher. They wed in 1947 and began their married life and music teaching careers in Maumee, Ohio. Shortly afterward, they moved to Defiance, Ohio, where their first child, Janie, was born, followed by Jim a year later. By the time Judy arrived in 1956, the family had moved to Columbus, where George earned his Ph.D. and taught woodwind instruments and music education at Ohio State. He performed as principal bassoonist with Columbus Symphony and bassoonist with the Ohio State Wind Quintet. He also served as conductor of the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra for 15 years, and as president of the Ohio Music Education Association as well as the North Central Division of the Music Educators National Conference.

Despite a busy professional life, George prized family and friends. The house was filled with music, and the children's friends remember his grand sense of humor. The family moved again to Chicago in 1969, where George taught at Roosevelt University. There he chaired the Music Education Department and served for a time as Dean of the University's Chicago Musical College.

After retiring, George and Jean built a dream house on the land in Ohio where he had grown up and lived there for five years before returning to Illinois. In 1998 they moved to southern California, and enjoyed their five grandchildren, church life, traveling, and playing in a local klezmer band. After losing Jean in 2012, George lived on to welcome a great-grandson and to attend granddaughter Cynthia's wedding this December 16. Five days before passing he cried with happiness when his grandson Warren proposed to Rosa and gave her Jeanie's engagement ring.

George is survived by his brother and sister, three children, five grandchildren, one great-grandson, and 29 nieces and nephews. The family asks that he be remembered with donations to the Wilson Weait Bassoon Studio Award Fund #667515, The OSU Foundation, 1480 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43221-3938.

George was a member of the marching band in 1941, 1942, and 1946. He played alto horn.