Frank & Joann “Jody” Wilson

Frank Wilson, February 19, 2020

Joann “Jody” Wilson, November 30, 2020

Frank and Jody Wilson passed away last year after 59 years of marriage. The two were well known participants of civic life in Healdsburg, active in local politics and regular volunteers with the Healdsburg Senior Center, the Healdsburg Library, and Meals On Wheels.

Frank passed away at home in February. Jody passed away nine months later at the home of her son. Both died peacefully.

The Wilsons met in Florida in 1959. Frank was working as an electrical engineer, a skill learned during four years with the U.S. Air Force, where he was a radar operator during the Korean War. 

Jody grew up in New Hampshire, one of two sets of twins. She attended teaching college and upon graduation accepted a position teaching second grade in Ft. Lauderdale.

Soon after being set up on a blind date, Frank and Jody were married and planning a move to California, where Frank had hopes for a job in the nascent Silicon Valley. They drove across the country together, Frank in his VW Karmann Ghia, and Jody in her Morris Minor, their few belongings packed in their back seats. 

Settling in Palo Alto, where they lived for 25 years, Frank found work designing printed circuit boards for firms such as National Semiconductor and Jody raised two children, volunteered at Stanford Hospital, and worked as a receptionist. 

With both children moved out by the late 1980s, Frank and Jody decided to look for a smaller, quieter town in which to retire. They sold their house, packed camping gear in their Toyota Camry, and spent the next 18 months driving around the United States, staying with friends and sleeping in a tent in state parks.

In 1989, after circling the United States, the pair ended up in Healdsburg, only a couple hours drive from their old home. Retired, but not really, Frank was immediately offered a job by a neighbor driving for Enterprise Rental Cars. Jody joined a bridge group that she remained in until months before her death. 

The Wilsons spent much of their retirement travelling the world together, from Scotland to the Cook Islands, from Italy to Argentina. Avid bird-watchers, they often joined birding safaris to places like Costa Rica or Brazil. 

Frank was a practical man and a perpetual cynic who liked to make figures out of corks donated by local wineries. Frank’s cork creations can still be seen in the Sonoma County Wine Library. 

Jody loved small animals, keeping feeders for the hummingbirds that swarmed her property and keeping her pockets filled with snacks for the dogs she met on walks around town. 

The Wilsons leave behind a daughter, Sarah Karlsson of Huntington Beach, California, and a son, Steven Wilson of Portland, Oregon, as well as four grandchildren: Brandon, Grant, Ben, and Nate. 

A memorial service will be held for Frank and Jody in Healdsburg this summer.

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