UPDATED: Deacon Bill Wilson remembered as a ‘model for us all’

November 27, 2023 at 1:10 p.m.
Deacon Wilson's casket, which is draped with the American flag, is placed in the hearse after the funeral Mass. Deacon Wilson was laid to rest in St. Mary Cemetery, Hamilton. Mary Stadnyk photo
Deacon Wilson's casket, which is draped with the American flag, is placed in the hearse after the funeral Mass. Deacon Wilson was laid to rest in St. Mary Cemetery, Hamilton. Mary Stadnyk photo


Deacon William “Bill” Wilson, former diocesan director of building and construction and a permanent deacon since 1991, allowed his faith “to permeate every aspect of life,” said Father Michael Hall, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in Hamilton Square.

Deacon Wilson, who served his ministry at St. Gregory, died Nov. 16, the day before his 89th birthday.

“Everything about Bill and all that he did came with an easy and unpretentious humility,” Father Hall said at the deacon’s Nov. 22 Mass of Christian Burial.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., was among those who shared warm sentiments and memories about Deacon Wilson. Because of a prior commitment to celebrate Mass in Philadelphia, Bishop O’Connell sent a message of condolence, which Father Hall read.

“Bill Wilson was a wonderful man and an exemplary deacon whose service to both the Diocese and the parish here has been a model for us all to imitate,” Bishop O’Connell wrote in his message.

“On more occasions than anyone can count, Bill’s gentle personality and easy smile warmed the hearts of those who turned to him in need and drew them closer to the Lord. Bill was a treasured part of all our lives, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him, especially here at St. Gregory Parish,” Bishop O’Connell wrote.

Making the faith his own

In his homily, Father Hall focused on highlights of Deacon Wilson’s faith life and service as a deacon. He shared that Deacon Wilson had been a convert to the Catholic faith and, ultimately, he went on to make “that faith his own.”

In addition to presiding over countless sacramental celebrations and working with parish groups, he “returned the gift of faith that had been given to him by leading others to the Church and his service in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults,” Father Hall said.

“In every sense of the word, Bill was a good man, and his goodness had an effect on everyone who knew him,” Father Hall said, noting that he and Deacon Wilson shared many years of friendship.

Lifelong Trenton resident

Deacon Wilson was born and raised in Trenton and was a lifelong area resident. Following his 1952 graduation from Trenton High School, he became a carpenter’s apprentice with Carpenter’s Union Local #31 and quickly rose to a journeyman carpenter. He advanced to become a foreman of area construction projects, many of which, including the Planetarium at New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, are still landmarks today.

In the mid-1970s, he joined the faculty of Mercer County Technical School, and he also provided military construction support as a member of Seabees in the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than 10 years.

During his career as a carpenter and in construction, Deacon Wilson worked as a superintendent for many years with Belli Construction. He later joined Martin House, a nonprofit organization in inner-city Trenton that helped people in Trenton realize their dream of homeownership. Through his involvement with the youth group in St. Gregory the Great Parish, he shared his skills as a facilitator on service trips to the Appalachian Mountains to build homes for those less fortunate. He and his son, Bill, began W. Wilson Construction, where they worked together for years until Deacon Wilson retired in 1998.

A second career

Later that year, he joined the Diocese of Trenton, where he served as the superintendent of construction until his second retirement in 2015.

Deacon Wilson was ordained a deacon by Bishop John C. Reiss May 11, 1991, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. In addition to his duties with the parish and community, he was a founder of the Trenton-based City of Angels addiction recovery community.

Deacon Wilson was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Dorothy (Forrest) Wilson. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Cecelia C. (Battiste) Wilson; three children, Wendy (Michael) Beauchemin of Florence, William T. (Pamela) of New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Sharon Puglisi of Robbinsville; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

 Memorial contributions may be made to St. Gregory the Great Parish, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, N.J. 08690, or City of Angels by visiting In Memory Of at inmemof.org

To view the livestream of the funeral Mass, click here.


 

A number of priests from throughout the Diocese concelebrated Deacon Wilson's funeral Mass. At left are members of Deacon Wilson's family. Mary Stadnyk photo



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Deacon William “Bill” Wilson, former diocesan director of building and construction and a permanent deacon since 1991, allowed his faith “to permeate every aspect of life,” said Father Michael Hall, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in Hamilton Square.

Deacon Wilson, who served his ministry at St. Gregory, died Nov. 16, the day before his 89th birthday.

“Everything about Bill and all that he did came with an easy and unpretentious humility,” Father Hall said at the deacon’s Nov. 22 Mass of Christian Burial.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., was among those who shared warm sentiments and memories about Deacon Wilson. Because of a prior commitment to celebrate Mass in Philadelphia, Bishop O’Connell sent a message of condolence, which Father Hall read.

“Bill Wilson was a wonderful man and an exemplary deacon whose service to both the Diocese and the parish here has been a model for us all to imitate,” Bishop O’Connell wrote in his message.

“On more occasions than anyone can count, Bill’s gentle personality and easy smile warmed the hearts of those who turned to him in need and drew them closer to the Lord. Bill was a treasured part of all our lives, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him, especially here at St. Gregory Parish,” Bishop O’Connell wrote.

Making the faith his own

In his homily, Father Hall focused on highlights of Deacon Wilson’s faith life and service as a deacon. He shared that Deacon Wilson had been a convert to the Catholic faith and, ultimately, he went on to make “that faith his own.”

In addition to presiding over countless sacramental celebrations and working with parish groups, he “returned the gift of faith that had been given to him by leading others to the Church and his service in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults,” Father Hall said.

“In every sense of the word, Bill was a good man, and his goodness had an effect on everyone who knew him,” Father Hall said, noting that he and Deacon Wilson shared many years of friendship.

Lifelong Trenton resident

Deacon Wilson was born and raised in Trenton and was a lifelong area resident. Following his 1952 graduation from Trenton High School, he became a carpenter’s apprentice with Carpenter’s Union Local #31 and quickly rose to a journeyman carpenter. He advanced to become a foreman of area construction projects, many of which, including the Planetarium at New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, are still landmarks today.

In the mid-1970s, he joined the faculty of Mercer County Technical School, and he also provided military construction support as a member of Seabees in the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than 10 years.

During his career as a carpenter and in construction, Deacon Wilson worked as a superintendent for many years with Belli Construction. He later joined Martin House, a nonprofit organization in inner-city Trenton that helped people in Trenton realize their dream of homeownership. Through his involvement with the youth group in St. Gregory the Great Parish, he shared his skills as a facilitator on service trips to the Appalachian Mountains to build homes for those less fortunate. He and his son, Bill, began W. Wilson Construction, where they worked together for years until Deacon Wilson retired in 1998.

A second career

Later that year, he joined the Diocese of Trenton, where he served as the superintendent of construction until his second retirement in 2015.

Deacon Wilson was ordained a deacon by Bishop John C. Reiss May 11, 1991, in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. In addition to his duties with the parish and community, he was a founder of the Trenton-based City of Angels addiction recovery community.

Deacon Wilson was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Dorothy (Forrest) Wilson. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Cecelia C. (Battiste) Wilson; three children, Wendy (Michael) Beauchemin of Florence, William T. (Pamela) of New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Sharon Puglisi of Robbinsville; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

 Memorial contributions may be made to St. Gregory the Great Parish, 4620 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, N.J. 08690, or City of Angels by visiting In Memory Of at inmemof.org

To view the livestream of the funeral Mass, click here.


 

A number of priests from throughout the Diocese concelebrated Deacon Wilson's funeral Mass. At left are members of Deacon Wilson's family. Mary Stadnyk photo


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