George William Wilson

George William Wilson of Concord, died Wednesday, November 16, 2011, of Alzheimer's disease at Havenwood-Heritage Heights. He was 74.

He was the former publisher of the Concord Monitor, as well as CEO of the family newspaper company that publishes the Monitor, the Valley News of Lebanon, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript of Peterborough, The Recorder of Greenfield, Mass., and the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass.

Mr. Wilson was born in Norfolk, Va., the son of Jack and Elsie H. Wilson. His father's job managing department stores took the family throughout the South, with the final stop being Aiken, S.C., where Mr. Wilson graduated from Aiken High School.

While Aiken at the time was renowned for its polo fields and wintering thoroughbreds, Mr. Wilson had a grittier experience, as his family fell on hard times. He earned spending money working at the Aiken Standard newspaper and the local haberdashery, the beginning of his lifelong career in newspapers and a love of good clothes. At 5-foot-11 and never topping 165 pounds, Mr. Wilson nonetheless became a notable-enough high school quarterback to be awarded a state trophy declaring him "South Carolina's Best Football," the state evidently deciding the word 'player' superfluous.

Perhaps partly on the strength of his football playing and surely because of his intelligence, Mr. Wilson was admitted to Harvard University. Come fall, his mother, unable to take leave from her job as a postal clerk, deposited him and his suitcase alongside a highway and he hitchhiked his way from South Carolina to Cambridge.

He left the South and his accent behind and became a Yankee, apart from the year he took off from Harvard to report for what was then the women's section of The Washington Post. While in Washington he met his wife, Marily, at a bridge game. He must have been charming indeed, as he was not a good bridge player.

Early on, the couple moved to Concord, where Mr. Wilson's father-in-law, an owner of the Concord Monitor, gave him a job as an advertising salesman. Mr. Wilson took on a succession of jobs and became publisher in 1974 and eventually CEO of the family company. He held a deep belief in the importance of newspapers for an informed citizenry, and had a particular admiration for reporters and the newsroom.

A man of broad enthusiasms, Mr. Wilson ran out of time before he ran out of hobbies. Chief among them were exploring the West, sailing in Maine, fly-fishing, scuba-diving, collecting fine art and cameras, and cooking. His family is indebted to him for its early introduction to Rumtopf, New England boiled dinners, hoppin' John and grits. It was an abiding mystery to all that despite decades of practice, Mr. Wilson could not make so much as white rice without using a catastrophic number of pots, pans and measuring spoons.

A man who grew up with little, Mr. Wilson ensured that his children had it all. He remained in awe of his wife, as much for her bright wit as for her devastating bridge hands. He was a cheerful, optimistic and courteous man, and though Alzheimer's robbed him of some years, he lived a full life.

Mr. Wilson was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Robert. He is survived by his wife, Marily Wilson, of Concord; three children, Abigail (Aaron) Julien of Massachusetts, Geordie D. (Pilar Olivo) Wilson of Maryland; Elizabeth (Christopher) Dutton of Vermont; and eight grandchildren: Isaac, Asa and David Julien; Rowena, Ruby and William Wilson-Olivo; and Abigail and Sarah Dutton. He is also survived by three half-sisters, Kathy Berry and Michelle Bello, both of Pennsylvania, and Susan Rosen of Oregon.

Calling hours will be held Saturday, November 19, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests at 54 Portsmouth St. in Concord.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Concord Community Music School or the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.