John Leod Wilson was born on 28 Sep 1900, the son of John and Bertha (Washington) Wilson. John and his siblings: Leta, Freda, Claude, Lloyd, Nellie, and Colette, were born and raised in Ottawa, KS. In 1919, he graduated from Ottawa High School, the first black male to do so.
On 09 Sep 1919, he entered K-State, following the general science course of study. While his primary focus was chemistry, he also studied piano, French, and education administration.
He lived at 618 Yuma his first two years of college, before moving to the Phi Beta Sigma Chapter House, 1020 Colorado, for his final years.
Wilson graduated from K-State on 31 May 1923 with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Science. Following graduation, he went into education, teaching chemistry, physics and mathematics at a number of high schools and colleges. The 1930 census shows he was teaching at the State University for Negroes in Oklahoma. He earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Kansas in 1934.
He took a YMCA-USO training course at Columbia University Teachers College in New York and received a Secretary's certificate. He put this to good use during World War II, spending four years with the USO as the director and administrator of clubs in Manchester, NH; Waco, TX; Temple, TX; New Orleans, LA; and Houston, TX.
He served as Dean at the University Arkansas at Pine Bluff until 1957. This same year he earned a Doctoral degree in Education from Indiana University in Bloomington. He spent two years as the registrar and professor of education at a college in St Augustine, FL, before taking a position as head of the department of secondary education and Director of Student Teaching at Savannah State College, Savannah, GA.
In 1967, he left Savannah State College to return to Florida, where he spent a decade as foreign student advisor and administrative assistant to the President of Florida Memorial College in Miami. He retired, finally, in 1977, and returned to the house his father bought in 1903 in Ottawa, KS. He was a dedicated university administrator known for his lifelong commitment to higher education and student development.
J. L. Wilson died on 19 Dec 1998 in Ottawa, KS, and was buried in Hope Cemetery.
K-State Directory, 1919-1922
Royal Purple, 1921-1923
1910 Census: Kansas - Franklin County - Ottawa Ward 1 - District 91
1920 Census: Kansas - Franklin County - Ottawa - District 92
1930 Census: Oklahoma - Logan County - Antelope - District 1
Social Security Death Index