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John E. Wilson Jr. | Banker, 82

John E. Wilson Jr., 82, a retired banker and the sixth generation of his family to live in Tredyffrin Township, died Sunday, Dec. 5, of emphysema at White Horse Village, a Newtown Square retirement facility.

Mr. Wilson spent 36 years in banking. He began as a teller with the Roosevelt Bank in South Philadelphia. After the bank became part of Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Co., he worked his way up to vice president.

After 26 years, he joined Bryn Mawr Trust Co. His job was to develop commercial business, his family said. He opened a branch in Wayne and managed the Rosemont branch before retiring as a regional vice president in 1991.

Mr. Wilson was born in Philadelphia and raised in Havertown. He graduated from Haverford High School in 1945 and logged a year at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Navy as a seaman.

His wife, the former Eleanor Knapp, said he was based at the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard and wanted to widen his horizons - literally.

"When do you get to go sea in this Navy?" she said he asked his superiors. That had the desired effect, she said, and he soon shipped out as a captain's yeoman on the aircraft carrier Tarawa.

Though he never saw combat, he loved life at sea and told stories that held listeners in thrall, she said.

After World War II, Mr. Wilson went back to Penn and graduated in June 1950 with a bachelor's degree in economics.

For 43 years, Mr. Wilson was a member of Wayne United Methodist Church. He also belonged to the Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern and the Italian American Club of Wayne. Though not Italian, Mr. Wilson enjoyed lunching at the club with many people he got to know through the bank, his wife said.

Brookside, Mr. Wilson's family farm, which goes back generations, is now part of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The farmhouse served as the headquarters of the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War.

Surviving in addition to his wife, whom he met at a dance and married 59 years ago, are a daughter, Mollie W. McCulloch, and two grandchildren.

A visitation will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, followed by a memorial service at 11, at the White Horse Village Auditorium, 535 Gradyville Rd., Newtown Square.

Memorial donations may be made to Baker Industries, 184 Pennsylvania Ave., Malvern, Pa. 19355, which hires the disabled.