William B. Wilson, 92, formerly of Bryn Mawr, developer of the Brandywine Airport, died Friday, April 11, of respiratory failure at an assisted-living facility near his home in Menlo Park, Calif.
Mr. Wilson saw action during World War II. He was enrolled at Williams College when he enlisted as a lieutenant in the Navy on Dec. 8, 1941. He became a pilot, teaching aerial photography. Toward the end of the war, he was based on the aircraft carrier Intrepid.
After his military service, Mr. Wilson returned to Williams to graduate.
A Rochester, N.Y., native, he moved to the Philadelphia area in the late 1940s to work in research and development for what was then Smith, Kline & French. His real passion, though, continued to be aviation.
In the 1950s, Mr. Wilson bought and developed a field in West Chester that he eventually named Brandywine Airport. He loved the countryside and took pride in developing the land around the airport in an environmentally friendly manner, his family said.
UPS, QVC, and the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center were among the first corporations to locate in the area near American Boulevard and Airport Road in West Chester.
"Throughout his life, Bill's adventurous spirit never left him for flying his small plane, sailing on his boat Winddance, and skiing all over the world. He was known for the wonderful tales he told about his exploits," his family said in a tribute.
Mr. Wilson and his wife, the former Joan Erickson, whom he married in 1985, lived in Bryn Mawr for many years and were active members of the Merion Cricket Club and the Radnor Hunt Club.
After moving to California in 2003 to be near her family, the two would drive east across the country each year with their Australian shepherd, Bosco, to see friends in Pennsylvania and go to the Adirondacks.
He was married previously to Penelope Wilson and Judith Wilson. The marriages ended in divorce; both survive.
In addition to his third wife, he is survived by daughters Linn Krieg, Suzanne, Wendy O'Brien, Elizabeth Gonzalez, and Victoria Wilson-Charles; a stepson, Steedman Hinckley; 14 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held Aug. 23 at the Adirondack League Club, 221 Little Moose Rd., Old Forge, N.Y. Details are being finalized.
Contributions may be made to the Adirondack Council via www.adirondackcouncil.org/.