In Memoriam - Jean Willson

To: UCSC Community

From: Alice Yang, Provost, Adlai E. Stevenson College

I regret to inform you that Jean Willson, beloved wife of former Stevenson Provost Glenn Willson (1967-1974) died of pneumonia on August 9 in Kingston Hospital in London. She was 88 years old and is survived by her husband Glenn, daughters Judith Ball and Rosanne Townsend (both UCSC graduates), sons-in-law Terry Ball (Cowell College 1967) and David Townsend, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Glenn and Jean Willson regularly hosted all kinds of events for students and faculty at the Provost's House. Jean was known for her animated presence, good humor and sense of style. She always worked to make Stevenson College into a true community. As faculty fellow Ronnie Gruhn recounts, "Jean's sociability, good cheer, graciousness, interest in the arts and engagement with all who crossed her path, served the Stevenson community well." Committed to providing a humane social setting for everyone at the college, Jean enjoyed spending time with the gardeners and maintenance staff as well with homesick freshmen and busy faculty. She lobbied successfully for establishment of the Stevenson Coffee house to provide the community with an informal and comfortable gathering place. Her efforts are acknowledged by a plaque in the coffee house to Jean," the founding mother."

Jean's daughter, Judith, gave a moving eulogy commemorating her mother's life and the joy she spread to all who knew her:

We are here to celebrate the life of Jean, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend, much loved by all.
She was a complex character, at heart a Scots Puritan and at the same time someone who loved informality and openness.
We remember her warmth, charm, irreverence and wit and particularly enjoyed her sideways humor. She was always a little fey and playful and one of her greatest gifts was her amazing ability to talk easily to anyone, draw them out and listen to them with honest interest and full attention. She was a wonderful mimic.
Jean was a matchless, supportive partner to Glenn for nearly 70 years, helping him with his professional responsibilities, not only entertaining countless guests, participating in numerous ceremonies with grace and charm but also, providing sharp and useful critiques of Glenn’s prose.  While she always   played the role of hostess with consummate ease, it was in spite of her desire for a more private life.
Jean always delighted her children and grandchildren with her imaginative storytelling, creative fantasies, singing and dancing. Sadly her two great grand daughters will not be so privileged. Jean was a great reader and loved books. Her daughters remember many wonderful hours of book discussions.
Having lived on four continents over a period of 25 years, Jean amassed an army of friends, all of whom loved her zany comments on life, her support and friendship.
She will be much missed by all.

Letters to Glenn Willson can be sent to:
Galsworthy House
177 Kingston Hill
Kingston-Upon-Thames KT2 7LX
United Kingdom