Griggs-Schooler-Gordon Funeral Directors

5400 Bell Avenue, Amarillo, TX


Quentin Taylor Wilson

November 21, 1942August 30, 2019
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Quentin Taylor Wilson, 76, of Amarillo passed away on Friday, August 30, 2019.

A celebration of Quentin’s life will be held on Saturday, September 07, 2019 at 2pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 1100 S. Harrison, with Brady Clark presiding.

Quentin was born Nov. 21, 1942 in Warrior Mine, West Virginia to Eston and Jessie (nee Richardson) Wilson. He attended and graduated from Big Creek High School, Warrior Mine, W. Virginia. He Graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry, and did post graduate work at West TX State University. He worked as a chemist in Midland TX, and as a petroleum engineer living in Texas and Oklahoma. He was an inventor, entrepreneur and an original rocket boy. When he was in high school, he and five other boys built rockets (in the mid-fifties), winning the National Science Fair. The movie October Sky and the memoir Rocket Boys written by Homer “Sonny” Hickam (one of the boys) featured them and their achievements.

Quentin is survived by his wife Janice Knighton Birkholz, daughters Laura Wilson of Hillsboro, OR, Jocelyn (Jocie) Buchanan and husband Kent of Amarillo TX, and Heather Wilson Hillsboro, OR; a sister Dr. Keren Brown Wilson of Happy Valley, OR; and grandchildren Lance Corp. Emilio Buchanan USMC, and Justin Buchanan. Quentin was preceded in death by his parents Eston Wilson, and Jessie F. Richardson Wilson; Brother Richard Wilson, and sisters Eula Vee Wallace, Dona Sanders, and Bonnie Huckaby.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in honor of Quentin’s mother to the Jessie F. Richardson Foundation, 15900 S.E. 82nd Dr. Clackamas OR 97085 or Tascosa Lions Club, 3321 Bell Street Suite B, Amarillo, TX 79106


  • Janice Knighton Birkholz, Wife
  • Laura Wilson, Daughter
  • Jocelyn "Jocie" Buchanan, Daughter
  • Kent Buchanan, Son-in-law
  • Heather Wilson, Daughter
  • Dr. Keren Brown Wilson, Sister
  • Lance Corp. Emilio Buchanan USMC, Grandson
  • Justin Buchanan, Grandson
  • Quentin was preceded in death by his parents Eston Willson and Jessie F. Richardson Wilson; brother Richard Wilson and sisters Eula Vee Wallace, Dona Sanders and Bonnie Huckaby.

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  • LCpl Emilio Buchanan - USMC, Honorary Bearer
  • Justin Buchanan, Honorary Bearer


  • Celebration of Life

    Saturday, September 7, 2019


Quentin Taylor Wilson

have a memory or condolence to add?

DJ Jeff Yahney

April 7, 2020

Because of great men like Quentin .. there are wonderful stories and life changing events to tell.
Countless have been inspired around the world, by 6 men, who back in the 1950s followed their hearts and dreams because they wanted more out of life !
Anything is possible in life !
And all the Rocket Boys proved it !
Rip Quentin thankyou for inspiring me !

Melody Silk

September 8, 2019

So sorry to hear about uncle Quentin we will miss him so glad we got to visit while we were over the road and having dinner with you guys If I had known I would have been there again so sorry for your loss


September 7, 2019

My condolences and sympathy to his wife, Janice, and family.

I first met Quentin at a Toastmaster Club over 30 years ago. At the meeting, a few members would be given a surprise topic to talk about for a short period of time, like one minute. Quentin did not have any problem in giving a talk on any unplanned subject because he was so well-read. He was an avid reader and brilliant in so many ways.

For a lot of people, they thought Quentin was weird. He was sort like an Elbert Einstein, as being strange. To me, it seemed that Quentin never tuned into people or sensed how they took what he had said or did. For some people, Quentin trait of not detecting how people took him did not endear him. You just had to accept that as being Quentin. In discussions, Quinten would many times come up with a quote or comment that provide a different perspective or was just plain funny.

Last few years, Quentin fame was being portrayed in the movie called October Skies. The film did not do justice to Quentin, as he was better looking than the kid that portrayed him. He got many requests to give talks about his time in school in West Virginia and building rockets which were the theme of the film. He seemed to love traveling the country and talking about the experiences of that time.

Over the years, Quentin and I went a lot of West Texas A&M Football games. In recent times and since he had difficulty walking, he kept up will WT sports by using his computer and kept me informed of WT successes.

We will all miss Quentin!


Tony Kolodziej

September 5, 2019

Quentin, I'm sorry to see you go although you managed to live longer than you ever expected to. I had the pleasure of working with you at Coastal in 1980 and our own consulting oil company from 1995 - 2008. You will be missed.

Marilyn Barton

September 3, 2019

Quentin was not known by me personally. I learned about him from the book "Rocket Boys". I became a big fan of his from that book. He was an exceptionally smart and "prodigious" type of man and scientist.

Rest is peace, Quentin! You inspired so many people who looked up to you and saw your virtues!

My sympathy to his family members. Our loss and Heaven has gained a champion!!

Laura Kilburn

September 2, 2019

So sad to hear of Mr. Wilson’s passing. I did not know him personally, but I know that by being one of the Rocket Boys he has inspired so many. I’m sure he is in quite a prodigious place right now!

Mary Frances Holcomb-Begley

September 2, 2019

One of the original Big Creek High School Rocket Boys!! A member of our Bartley #3 Coal Camp Community—and schoolmate and friend. Quentin was a great honor student always and, as always, a caretaker of his younger siblings and friends. We loved Quentin!!! RIP BC Owl

Chuck Miller

September 2, 2019

Never met you. Never even really knew you, but you were an inspiration to my kids and one reason they are successful in life. Your life touched those well beyond your knowledge.

Charlie Harnett

September 1, 2019

Im so sad to hear of this. October sky was and has been one of my all time favorite movies. It has inspired many people to pursue dreams,even when everyone around them said it couldn't or should've be done. Fly high rocket boy!

Gary Sonner

September 1, 2019

R.I.P Quentin. I only know you from the book "Rocket Boys" and the movie "October Sky" but some how I feel I know a little bit about a part of your life. I also grew up around the same era and it was an amazing time to be young and explore new things and the Space race was on. I was absorbed by your story and related to you and the rest of the boys. I hope heaven is a wonderful place to be and explore!



      Quentin Taylor Wilson was a natural leader whose winning presence allowed him to take control of various situations with ease. Equipped with a clear and calculating focus, he possessed a tough-minded, “take charge” attitude. He had the ability to make even routine situations seem exciting, and he was at ease with the role of playing problem solver. Quentin always sought out the scene of where the action was. Sociable, analytical and pleasant, Quentin was an individual who enjoyed life’s challenges.

      Quentin was born on November 21, 1942 at at the family home in Warrior Mine, West Virginia. His parents were Eston and Jessie (Richardson) Wilson. Quentin was raised in Warrior Mine, West Virginia. Always able to express himself well, Quentin possessed strong interpersonal skills. He was optimistic in his outlook on life and was able at all times to be open and direct in his communication. Armed with a great wit, Quentin was raised to be accepting of others and to implement a strong personal work ethic.

      Blessed with a balanced attitude, Quentin was able to relate well with others. His occasional role as family mediator gave him the opportunity to ease tense situations when they occurred. Quentin was raised with five siblings. He had four sisters, Vee, Donna, Karen, and Bonnie; and one brother, Richard. Quentin had a strong desire to be treated fairly and would readily offer others the same fairness in return.

      Known to others as a focused, logical, open-minded and somewhat driven individual, Quentin was able to utilize these qualities to succeed in high school. His curious nature was spurred by his ability to maximize his personal learning style through employing a hands-on approach. He was good with facts and had an excellent memory. He graduated from Big Creek High School in Warrior Mine, West Virginia in 1960. He enjoyed some courses more than others, having favorite classes and teachers. His favorite class in high school was Chemistry. The teacher he enjoyed learning from the most was Miss Riley. He was the winner of the National Science Fair.

      When the goal of college was in sight, it became important to Quentin. Again, his direct, “down to earth” approach served him well. He was able to absorb complex concepts and had an acute sense of how things worked. He earned his Bachelors Degree from Marshall University. His favorite courses were Math and Science.

      Friends and acquaintances found Quentin an easy man to get to know, and those close to him would often praise his open, practical style of communication and relaxed approach to life in general. Quentin was uncomplicated and straightforward in his relationships, which allowed him to accept people for what they were. While growing up, some of his best friends were Homer Hickem, Roy Lee Cook, Patty Hawkins, Billy Rose, Odell Carroll, and Sherman Siers.

      On November 19, 1988 Quentin exchanged wedding vows with Janice Kay Knighton at the Justice of the Peace of Angel Fire, New Mexico. Quentin was attentive to Janice's feelings, and he charmed Janice and others with his gift for being able to give freely and generously. A good listener with an engaging personality, Quentin was able to bring pleasure and unexpected humor to the relationship.

      Very much like a kid himself, Quentin identified with the inquisitive and creative side of his children’s personalities. He was able to direct his energy and spontaneity towards helping his children acquire added common sense skills. Quentin was blessed with three children, Laura Wilson, Jocie Buchanan, and Heather Wilson. They were also blessed with two grandchildren, Emilio and Justin Buchanan.

      Quentin was a flexible worker who was able to draw the best from others around him. A persuasive individual who was quick to make necessary decisions, Quentin’s strengths included being able to think on his feet. He could be a leader who sought impact for his decisions. Gifted with an incredible ability to read body language, Quentin was able to positively manipulate situations and motivate others in order to get a task completed. He was a good negotiator who enjoyed new challenges. Quentin could multi-task, and he was endowed with entrepreneurial spirit, allowing him to think beyond standard norms when it came to resolving issues in his work environment. His primary occupation was Petroleum Engineer. He was employed for Getty Oil, Coastal Oil and Gas, Santa Fe Energy, and was self employed for many years.

      Quentin enjoyed his leisure time by taking part in various hobbies. He had something of an artistic flair in many of the things that he did. He put this creativity toward all of his pastimes. His favorite pursuits were rocketry, golf, travel, reading, and fishing. He was content to enjoy his hobbies alone but was also willing to share his interests with others.

      Because he liked to take risks, Quentin was a perfect match for athletics and exercise. He was enthusiastic and confident about these activities. Recreational sports included Golf, and Basketball. Quentin was also something of a sports fan and enjoyed watching his favorite events whenever he got the opportunity. Tops on his list were Basketball, and Baseball.

      Quentin was a gifted problem solver who worked hard to help accomplish group goals. This skill made him a wonderful asset to the various groups and organizations to which he belonged. Always matter-of-fact about what needed to be done, Quentin worked steadily to meet any organization’s goals. In high school, Quentin was a member of the Big Creek News Science Club as a writter and photographer. In college, Quentin joined the Cavaliers, Fraternity of Outstanding Cavaliers. Throughout his later years, Quentin was an active member of the Lions Club and Toastmasters.

      Quentin was a generous man who prized that same quality in others. So it’s little wonder that he was so active and giving in his community. Quentin was a member of several community groups, including serving on committees for the Lions Club and Toast Masters. Politically, Quentin was a member of the Republican Party.

      Quentin’s natural leadership qualities placed him in consideration for public recognition, earning him accolades for his many and varied efforts throughout his life. Some of his most prestigious awards included Order of the 35th Star, Lions Club Recognition, Distinguished West Virginian, and Legeslature Citation for the state of West Virginia.

      Travel and vacations were experiences that Quentin truly enjoyed. He preferred to seek out excitement wherever he went and he was partial to vacations that were casual and laid back with an atmosphere of “live and let live.” He was willing to leave his plans open and flexible, just in case something more interesting came along. Favorite vacations included St. Martain, Mexico.

      Quentin was a lover of animals and cherished his pets. One of Quentin’s favorites was Poe Poe the mix breed dog. They were best friends for 6 years. His family was rounded out by his Lucky the cat, and many dogs and cats throughout his life.

      When Quentin’s retirement finally came in 2006, he was well prepared. He used logical analysis of his retirement options in order to ensure his retirement would be fulfilling. Still, he was able to easily adapt to possible changes and enjoyed just having fun and being relaxed. His new life involved relocating to Amarillo, Texas. In retirement, he found new pleasure in reading, RVing, and travel.

      Quentin passed away on August 30, 2019 at at home in Amarillo, Texas. COPD, PAD, Cogestive Heart Failure due to alcohol and tobacoo use. He is survived by his wife Janice, daughters, and grandchildren. Services were held at First Presbityrean Church of Amarillo, Texas. Quentin was laid to rest in the Willson Family Cemetery in Elizabethton, TN; the cemetery his great grandfather started.

      Quentin was the kind of person who could win others over easily. A concrete communicator, he relied on his senses to increase his involvement and awareness of others. He was always able to provide amusing repartee to his friends and acquaintances, offering a seemingly endless supply of quips, anecdotes, jokes and stories. If Quentin had a theme song written about him, it might well have been “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He enjoyed his life and the experience of living it. This is how everyone will remember Quentin Taylor Wilson.

Learn more about the Wilson name