|F. Harry Wilson, 80|
|Written by TRF Times|
Cloquet - F. Harry “Soapy” Wilson, 80, died Sunday, April 17, 2005 at St. Luke’s Hospice in Duluth.
Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet. The visitation will resume on Friday, April 22, from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service, also at Nelson Funeral Care. Interment services will be at Maple Grove Cemetery with full Military Honors accorded by the Cloquet Combined Honor Guard.
Harry was born on October 31, 1924 in Rush City, the son of Felix E. and Edna (Garthofner) Wilson. Harry grew up near the shores of Cross Lake in Pine City. Boyhood activities revolved around fishing, boating, swimming and ice boating. He also worked on his grandparents’ farm near Rock Creek. Harry was active in Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. He was also the master of the long defunct, two-handed set shot while a member of the feared Pine City Dragon basketball team.
Boyhood was abruptly replaced by manhood when Harry enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Harry lost his only sibling, older brother Kenneth, who was killed in action in Italy with the U.S. Army in WWII. After discharge, Harry and lifelong friend, Kenny Hegstrom, tried to celebrate for everyone who returned safely from the war. Their friendship was kept intact through marriage, and raising children, and continues to this day.
Not getting enough time on the water in the service, Harry sailed the Great Lakes on the ore boats. Thinking there must be warmer occupations in his future, he enrolled at the Duluth Teachers College, finishing up at St. Cloud State where he met his wife, Arlene, who worked as a secretary there. Married in 1951, she gave him more of an education than he got anywhere else. Arlene passed away from cancer in 1985.
Out of school, Harry’s good looks and gift of gab quickly landed him a job as a soap salesman with Proctor & Gamble. After several short stints in Billings, Montevideo, Robbinsdale, and Edina, Harry was “promoted” to Cloquet, where he raised his three children while selling soap under the pseudonym “Soapy Wilson” in the Arrowhead Region for over thirty years. Harry woefully witnessed the family grocers being replaced by the supermarkets during his career. To his dismay, a handshake and your word were replaced by technology.
Retirement was filled with golfing, fishing, card playing, and taking numerous houseboat trips on Lake Vermillion with family and friends. His grandchildren are now astute Blackjack players thanks to Harry. He also had a love for jazz, attending Saturday afternoon jam sessions at a local club, gaining another nickname “O’Douls”. He was always whistling some jazz tune. He will be hugely missed by his family and friends.
He is survived by one son, Steve (Beth) Wilson of Thief River Falls, MN; two daughters, Debra Asp of Lake Park, and Felicia (Stan) Palmer of Bloomington; and four grandchildren.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Arlene; one brother Kenneth and one son-in-law, Craig Asp.