Dr. Richard L. Wilson, 76, of Chattanooga, TN, passed away on Monday at Erlanger Hospital following a lengthy battle with health issues.
Richard Lee Wilson was born in Worthington, MN on Dec. 20, 1944. Upon graduation from Worthington High School in 1962, Wilson went on to earn a political science degree at the University of Chicago in 1966. He earned a Doctorate in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in May, 1971 and began a career teaching political science spanning five decades at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga that same fall.
He spent the 1986-87 school year in a teaching exchange program at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing, China, then returned there for the 1988-89 school year on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at Beijing University. That school year was cut short by the student protests at Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989.
In 1991, Wilson took a two-year sabbatical to teach at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, then returned to UTC where he closed out his career in 2015.
He began renting rooms to students when he purchased a pair of homes near the UTC campus in 1994. He purchased a third home in the same neighborhood near the end of his teaching career and made it a haven for international students and foreign exchange faculty members.
Wilson also served as Chattanooga’s Election Commissioner from 1977-84. He was a lifelong Democrat, but made many Republican friends over the years and even campaigned for some of them in local races.
He wrote thirteen books which won national awards and several book chapters, editorial page essays, book reviews and articles on politics and history during his career, in addition to extensive editing duties of books and encyclopedias. Outside the classroom, Wilson earned a private pilot license and was an avid photographer.
Wilson was preceded in death by his father, Roy, and his mother, Dorothy. He is survived by his son Kevin (Pam) and grandsons, Rowan and Michael; a sister, Rose (Craig) Clemmensen; a brother, Bruce (Pam) Wilson; and a nephew, Tyler (Vanessa) Wilson Clemmensen and their son, Jack.
A funeral service in his hometown in Worthington, MN is planned for this summer.
Benson Funeral Home in Worthington is assisting with arrangements.