I seek your indulgence in the impossible task that lies ahead of me this day, for here in this quiet place we celebrate the remarkable life of an uncommon man.
Major General Jode R. Wilson was born March 5, 1925 to Jode and Leta Wilson in Cordell, OK. Jode married Peggy Lynn Taylor (his high school sweetheart) on December 16, 1945. To this union, 3 girls were born: Judy Lynn, Jane Susan, and JoDe Ann. Major General Jode Wilson passed from this life on May 23, 2009. He is survived by his wife Peggy of 64 years, 3 daughters: Judy Froemming and husband Jerry of Justin, TX, Jane Draper and husband Robert of Hot Springs, AR, JoDe Ann Char and husband Dennis of Grapevine, TX, grandchildren: Jode Colbert Wells and husband Mike of Justin, TX and Taylor Wilson of Southlake, TX, who is attending the University of Oklahoma, great-grandson Rhett Wells, cousin Rosemary Spalding and husband Bob of Cordell, OK, along with their sons, Greg Spalding of Coppell, TX and Wes Spalding of Cordell, OK and cousin Bobbie Knie of Philadelphia, PA.
How do you celebrate Gen. Wilson’s life in just a few words? You don’t….for time has a way of eroding a man’s accomplishments, of turning his life — along with his body — to dust. His life will not be forgotten! He was a commanding, professional, dedicated, determined and courageous military officer. He was kind and he was extremely intelligent. He possessed a great ability to inspire others. He was a fresh and innovative thinker, he set the bar high and made no apologies for doing so. Though he had high expectations of others, he didn’t object to offering second chances to those that needed it.
A young Jode Wilson joined the US Marine Corps in 1943 and was an anti aircraft gunner on the island of Okinawa. He served 21 months in combat and was honorably discharged in 1946. After his WWII service, Jode attended college at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and was the president of his Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
In 1947, he joined the US Army as a member of the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma National Guard. He attended the US Army Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in 1948. He spent several tours overseas including 39 months in Germany, 14 months of combat in Korea, 12 months of combat in Laos and 15 months of combat in Vietnam. He was awarded several medals for Valor in Combat including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal, along with numerous other foreign decorations for Valor.
Over the next three decades Gen. Wilson fulfilled a number of staff and command appointments, including:
Executive Officer, Company Commander of 1st Armored Division, Company Commander of 728th MP BN, Special Advisor to Laotian Army, Special Forces Advisor in Vietnam, Provost Marshal of Ft. Jackson, SC, Battalion Commander in Vietnam & Professor of Military Science at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
In 1971, Gen. Wilson established the ROTC program at Southwestern, where he completed his US Army service. He retired as Colonel in 1977. After his US Army service, he became Flotilla Commander of the US Coast Guard in 1982, where he served until 1989, commanding the State of Oklahoma District. In 1991, Governor David Walters promoted then Colonel Wilson to the General Officer’s rank, and he was assigned Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserves/Oklahoma Reserve Force, where he served until his death.
Gen. Wilson consistently excelled at his many and varied tasks and garnered great respect from those in which he came into contact. I had the good fortune, like many other officers, to serve for several years in his long shadow. In his last few years of life, I would like to think that I became a close personal friend. During the time that I served under his command, I had to action many orders and requests that he made of me. But this one, his last request, I find the most difficult of all to carry out. Today, the last order was to present to Gen. Wilson’s grandson Taylor, the military file and shadowboxes containing his military history, awards and decorations. Taylor, today I task to you to pass your grandfather’s legacy down to future generations so that his accomplishments will never be forgotten. He had a great love for his family and a sincere consideration for those around him. Our hearts go out to Judy, Jane, JoDe Ann and the extended family at this very sad time.
Gen. Wilson: I salute your inspirational leadership; your long and dedicated service to our nation; your unwavering friendship and your devotion to Peggy and to your family. There is a verse Holy Bible book of Ecclesiastes, which says "There is a time for everything under the heavens. A time to dance and a time to mourn, a time to be born and a time to die". Sadly it has been his time to die. We are left to mourn, but only for a little while, for he is now in the good hands of our Heavenly Father.
I don't think he would mind if I finished with my own brief personal prayer:
In this house of worship, we leave him
God, may You accept him
Christ, may You receive him
Friends, let us never forget him
General Wilson, you were a great American!
May you rest in peace.