July 31, 1925 – January 6, 2019
Geoffrey Wilson died on January 6, 2019 at Rogerson House in Boston, MA, where he was under care for Alzheimer’s. He was married to Elizabeth DeCamp Wilson for nearly 64 years, until Liz’s death in 2011. He was also predeceased by a son, Frederick Wilson. He is survived by daughters Amy Wilson (David August) and Mary Wilson (Jonathan Dana), a son Timothy Wilson (Deirdre Smith), and seven grandchildren (Harry August, Seth August, Aaron August, Lucy Dana, Andrew Dana, Leigh Wilson, and Christopher Wilson).
Geoff was born on July 31, 1925 in Ticonderoga, New York in a summer home on Lake George. He attended the Graham-Eckes School in Florida and the Millbrook School in New York, and graduated from the Lawrenceville School, New Jersey, in 1943. He served in the U. S. Marine Corps from 1943-1946, including a year in Japan as part of the U.S. occupational forces. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1949 and a Masters in Library Science from Columbia University in 1954.
In 1954 Geoff moved with his family to Philadelphia to assume a position with the Free Library of Philadelphia. He worked for the library system for the next 33 years, becoming Head of the Logan and Tacony library branches, and ultimately the Head of Adult Book Selection for the entire system. He wrote occasional book reviews for the Philadelphia Inquirer. As a lover of literature, Geoff was twice a member of the selection committee for the Association of American Publishers' list of titles to be displayed at the Moscow International Book Fair, in 1979 and 1985.
Geoff lived in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia for over 50 years. He served a term as Inspector of Elections in his voting district, continuing a tradition of baking cookies to serve to voters after they cast their ballots.
After his retirement in 1987, Geoff researched and wrote a biography of his grandfather, John Danenhower, who was part of an ill-fated polar expedition in 1879–1881; read voraciously; and watched his beloved Phillies on television. He was devoted to music throughout his life, taking guitar lessons into his 80s, composing folk songs, and entertaining those in his residential facility on his guitar. He spent summers at his cottage on Lake George in Ticonderoga, NY, a stone’s throw from the cottage in which he was born. In 2005 he published Rogers Rock: The Hotel, The Club, The Cottage Colony, a history of the summer community of which he was a part his entire life.
Geoff always had a soft spot for the underdog (possibly explaining his devotion to the Phillies). While head of a library branch in Philadelphia he so admired the work of one of the security guards that he nominated him for Librarian of the Year, even though he wasn’t a librarian. When he worked at the central branch of the Philadelphia Library he befriended a man who sold soft pretzels in front of the building and helped get the man released from a state hospital after he was committed there.
The family gives their heartfelt thanks to the staff of Rogerson House, Jamaica Plain, MA for their kind and compassionate care, and Connie Jenkins for her devoted care and friendship during Geoff’s last years in Philadelphia.
Services will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lake George Land Conservancy, PO Box 1250, Bolton Landing, NY 12814, http://www.lglc.org/
- Funeral Services were Private
February 13, 2019
Dear Tim, Amy and Mary,
We have met, but it's been a long time. Your parents were our next door neighbors on Gowen Ave., other side of the twin, from 1986-1997. They were great neighbors and we have many fond memories of both of them. They paid us a visit on our front porch in Wayne after we moved , I think around 2005. They supported the births of all three of our girls, staying with our oldest (Marita, born 1987) when it was time for me to go to the hospital to have our Kathleen in 1990 (I think Kevin's sister arrived prior to our departure to welcome Emma in 1994). Wonderful chats outside, both on the front steps, and in the gardens out back, and cozy gatherings in their living room. Smart, wise, gentle, kind souls, both of them. We are very sorry for your loss.
Barbara Kraus-Blackney and Kevin Blackney
January 15, 2019
Geoffrey was a good friend of mine at the Rogerson House. I loved the way he always stopped in the nurses station just for conversation. At night when he couldn't sleep we would sit at the table eating microwave popcorn and talking about nothing in particular. He was a very easy guy who only wanted a little company from time to time. His daughter and son-in-law was a constant presence of whom which was his joy!
I really miss him and hope that his daughter would stop in so that I can properly say goodbye.
January 9, 2019
Dear Family of Geoff Wilson, I am so sorry to learn of his passing. We were good friends and colleagues for decades @ FLP Central Lib. before and after retirement(s). He was such a dear, sweet man.....
Sincerely and fondly,