Kerry Lynn Wilson
Kerry Lynn Wilson, age 74, of Camp Hill, and formerly of Johnstown, passed away at home on Monday, April 30, 2018, after a long illness. Kerry was born on Monday, September 27, 1943 in Johnstown to the late Charles Elmer Wilson and Leora Estelle (Lamison) Wilson. In addition to his parents, Kerry is preceded in death by his son, David Ray Wilson, who died on March 20, 2014, and by his brother, Donald Wilson.
Kerry’s survivors include his loving daughter, Stacy Lynn Sheridan and her husband Joe of Mechanicsburg; his granddaughter, Raime Wilson of Mechanicsburg; his two step grandchildren: Paige Sheridan, Joe Sheridan, Jr.; his former wife and good friend, Karen R. (Lehman) Wilson of Camp Hill; his sister-in-law, Betty Wilson of Johnstown; his niece, Tabitha Gallo; his nephew, Ryan Wilson; and his loving caregiver, Belynda Luckenbaugh of Camp Hill.
Kerry Lynn Wilson was born in Johnstown, PA on September 27, 1943 to Charles Elmer and Leora Estelle (Lamison) Wilson. Although World War II had taken many overseas, his father was kept stateside because the war effort could not spare skilled steelworkers at his level. His mother worked as well, as a sales girl at Glosser Bros. and then a switchboard operator at Lee Hospital.
Kerry was very close to his brother, Don, who was a few years younger and smaller than him while they were growing up, and was very protective of him. While Don followed his love of music, Kerry was a high school athlete participating on the football, baseball, basketball and track teams, where he was particularly noticed for his speed. After high school, Kerry attended East Carolina University, originally pursued physical education but later settled on a geology education major. He enjoyed cave exploring to examine their natural stalactites and stalagmites. When he came home at the end of his first semester, he found that his little brother had grown bigger than him!
Kerry fully enlisted as a soldier when he was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War and served his country overseas for 3 years, spending the majority of his time stationed in Germany. Although he didn’t talk at length about his time in the Army, he used some of his experiences later to help teach his children about things like camping and speaking (a little) German. When he returned from duty, he returned to education and earned an accounting degree from Cambria Rowe.
In 1975, Kerry married Karen Lehman, and the two spent more than a quarter of a century together, even though she made him and his groomsmen wear crushed velvet tuxedos on an unusually warm 80-degree day in November. In June of 1978, he became a father twice in one week, when his adoption of his son David was made official on June 20th and his daughter Stacy was born on June 23rd.
On New Year’s Eve 1978, Kerry suffered a massive heart attack that nearly killed him, but he inherited his mother’s stubborn streak and was not about to call it quits at 35. The doctors gave him 6 months, but after battling several more heart attacks, two bypass surgeries, a pacemaker/defibrillator implant (that really did work, even once on the golf course!), and interstitial lung disease with pulmonary fibrosis, he beat that original prognosis by a further 39 mostly active years.
He was there to support his son and daughter when they graduated from high school and to support his wife and daughter as they graduated from college. Not long after that, he took on the responsibility of being a (grand)father once more when Stacy moved home and his granddaughter, Raime, was born in March of 2002.
Raime lived with her Pappy for the first two years of her life, and for months and years at a time throughout her childhood, but no matter where she lived, she always wanted to spend Saturday night at her Pappy’s house. Like he had with David and Stacy, he played board games with her, and like he did with Stacy decades before, he taught her how to play poker and chess. It wasn’t long before she really gave him a challenge and sometimes won – he proudly claimed, “she’s GOOD!”.
Kerry was a doting father and grandfather, preferring actions to words. It wasn’t unusual for him to bring home an unexpected treat for someone in his family, or to provide enormous amounts of support and help as if it were the natural thing to do and no bother at all.
Kerry had great taste in entertainment, which blended well with his broad sense of humor. His favorite movie was Back to the Future and he made a spiritual connection through the Star Wars saga, relating to Yoda’s explanation that “my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us... You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere.” He believed there were light and dark sides to everything, that nothing was black and white, but that balance was necessary and life was better if you were a good person. If you visited him recently, you probably got to watch parts, if not all of the Star Wars saga, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, That 70’s Show, I Am Number Four, or Friends. Possibly multiple times.
Kerry was an avid golfer, leaving work an hour early every Tuesday for two decades and almost every Saturday, often golfing all year long, barring snow obscuring the ball! He was a dedicated and loyal statistician for his league, numerous times asking his family to bring his golf stats into the hospital where he was recovering from a heart attack or surgery so he could complete them in time for the next Tuesday tee off. If he wasn’t released in time, he had his family deliver them to the golf course on his behalf. He always honored his commitments.
He really enjoyed bowling, joining multiple leagues over the years, and continued to bowl even after his illness made it impossible to golf and difficult to bowl. He’d wear his oxygen while waiting for his turn, then take it off just long enough to roll the ball before putting it back on. He was determined not to let a silly thing like breathing keep him down, and he fought to maintain his active hobbies for as long as he could.
Kerry was strong and stubborn, both traits that permeate through his family, and battled a very difficult illness for more than four years. When he decided it was time to “go home”, as he put it, he was decisive, and he went quickly and with dignity. He will be loved and remembered by those close to him, who were fortunate enough to have had him in their lives and are better people for it.
All are welcome to join Kerry’s family at his gathering of family and friends on Saturday, May 5, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. until time of service at 2:00 p.m. at Harris Funeral Home, 500 Cherry Lane, Johnstown, PA 15904; with Celebrant Bob Buhrig officiating.
All are also welcome to join Kerry’s family at his gathering of family and friends on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. until time of service at 6:00 p.m. at Myers - Buhrig Funeral Home and Crematory, 37 East Main Street, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055; with Celebrant George A. Spangler officiating. Kerry’s family invites everyone to join them for a time of food and fellowship at the café next to Myers – Buhrig immediately following the service.
Interment with full military honors in Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville will be private and at the convenience of the family. Cremation was private.
To celebrate Kerry’s life and in lieu of flowers and other expressions of sympathy, the family suggests that you enjoy a drink at the 19th hole, just as Kerry would.
Kerry’s family has entrusted his care to Myers – Buhrig Funeral Home and Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421. Read Kerry’s full obituary, view his memorial video and portrait, and sign his official guest book at Buhrig.com.