Richard C. Wilsey ’58

Richard C. Wilsey ’58 died on May 3, 2015, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

(The following appeared on the website of Life Story Funeral Homes):


Straightforward, hardworking, and genuine, Richard Wilsey was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was outgoing and fun-loving with an approachable demeanor that drew others near with ease. There was no greater gift in Dick’s life than his family, and he was filled with unspeakable joy to witness his family tree blossom to include the children and grandchildren who were his greatest source of pride and joy. As much as he loved people, he also had a special place in his heart for animals as he was forever taking them in. Dick’s open door policy also extended to anyone in need of a place to stay as there was always room for one more. Although life will never be the same without him here, his memory will remain a lasting treasure for generations to come.

The dark days of the Great Depression held our nation and much of the world firmly in its grip throughout the 1930s. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless American families lost their homes. Despite the hardship that surrounded them, Stuart and Geraldine (Crandell) Wilsey were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby as spring unfolded in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1936. Their wait was over when the baby boy they named Richard C. drew his first breath on April 21st. He was the older of two children in his family and was raised alongside his sister, Marilyn, who was two years younger. During his earliest years, Dick lived in West Branch with his family, but they later moved to Kalamazoo. His father worked as a chemist at Upjohn while his mother focused her time and attention at home. Some of the Wilsey family’s favorite memories were spent at their cottage in West Branch, Michigan, during the summers where he developed a love for sailing. Dick attended local schools including State High.

After graduating from high school in 1954, Dick studied psychology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Two years later, he returned to his hometown and transferred to Kalamazoo College, completing his psychology degree. This proved to be a fateful decision as it was at Kalamazoo College that he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Diane, and he couldn’t help but ask her about her Maine accent. This sparked the beginning of a relationship that soon blossomed into true love. With a desire to establish a life together, Dick and Diane were united in marriage. Together Dick and Diane welcomed two children, Rick and Carolynn, into their hearts and home. He deeply loved both of his children, and he had a unique love for each one of them. The kitchen table was the regular gathering spot in the Wilsey home, and there was a traditional cocktail hour at five followed by dinner promptly at six. As a family they loved spending time at the family cottage every summer.

To support his family, Dick worked hard in advertising. His first advertising job was with Post Cereal, owned by General Foods in Battle Creek, which is where Rick was born. Dick later transferred to New York, and they lived in Mamaroneck, New York, which is where their family was completed with Carolynn’s birth. Dick and his family then moved to Stanford, Connecticut, where they bought their first house. Dick later took a job with a small advertising agency in Detroit, but he and his family lived in Bloomfield Hills. In 1969, they moved to Portage where he took a job with Upjohn Company. Dick stayed there for 25 years working until retiring from purchasing in 1994.

Throughout his life Dick was a man of many interests. He was an assistant swim coach for the Y-cats for years while both of his kids were swimming, and he also was chief of the Indian Guides. Dick read everything he could get his hands on, and he also enjoyed watching some of his favorite television shows including Jeopardy, especially since he knew countless bits of trivial information, and Judge Judy. In fact, his family and friends knew not to call or stop by during the show! Dick frequently cut little things out of the newspaper for his family, enjoyed classical music, loved all flavors of Edy’s ice cream, and often watched golf and historical programs. With a love for all people and an insatiable spirit of generosity, all were welcome at Dick’s home during the holidays, or any other day for that matter, and he loved entertaining, too.

During his retirement years, Dick had even more time for the people and things he loved. Since Diane was still working, he took over the cooking and cleaning as well as the ironing, too. He treasured his role as a grandfather and adored his four granddaughters. Dick was an active part of their lives and enjoyed driving them around as well as being there to support them in all their activities. They spent several winters in Marco Island, Florida, and for awhile they hosted an exchange student from Germany.

Called a collector of people, Richard Wilsey was the heartbeat of wherever he went. He was orderly and meticulous. Straightforward, nothing was off limits with Dick as he just wanted to know whatever it was. A loving husband, devoted father, and doting grandfather, he savored every moment he had to spend with his family and friends. Dick will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

Richard C. Wilsey, of Portage, died May 3, 2015 at Bronson Hospital, Kalamazoo. Dick’s family includes 2 children: Rick (Tamra) Wilsey and Carolynn (Jim) Meyers; 4 granddaughters: Lauren, Sarah, Alana and Julia; sister, Marilyn (Alan) Green and many nieces and nephews. Dick was preceded in death by his wife, Diane Wilsey in 2010.


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