Thursday, December 11, 2014
In Memoriam: Ian H. Wilson
VCCA has learned that Fellow Ian H. Wilson died on April 28, 2014 at his home in San Rafael, CA aged 90. The cause was Parkinson’s Disease which Ian had been battling for ten years.
Born in Harrow, England, Ian spent two years as a boy in Ceylon where his father’s career as an electrical engineer had taken the family. At St. John's College, Oxford, Ian read history, classics and philosophy interrupting his studies to serve in World War II. He participated in the invasion of Normandy and was subsequently wounded in France while climbing a tree to signal a message to troops. Following his military service, Ian returned to Oxford for his MA and became active in the university's theater program.
In 1951, Ian married Page Hedden, an American he met when she was studying in England. In 1954, the Wilsons moved permanently to the United States, taking up residence in Westport, CT. Ian began a 25-year career with General Electric becoming a member of the company's strategic planning staff and establishing the pioneering corporate “futures studies” group. Ian would be regarded as an internationally recognized authority on the development of long-term corporate strategic plans and near-term contingency plans. Ian produced several books on the subject including The New Rules of Corporate Conduct: Rewriting the Social Charter and The Scenario Planning Handbook.
Despite his demanding career, Ian found time for acting and directing at the Westport Community Theatre. He also served as director of the Westport Unitarian congregation's church school, president of Staples Parent-Teachers Association of Westport Schools and as chair of the Citizens' Commission on Long-Range School Goals. For years, Ian volunteered with the United Way of America, serving on its Environmental Scan and Strategic Process Task Force.
After his first marriage ended in divorce, Ian relocated to California. There he acted as a senior management consultant with SRI International from 1980-1993. Following SRI, he worked as the principal of Wolf Enterprises providing strategic planning services to corporations and other institutions. Ian also served as senior editor of Planning Review, the Journal of the Planning Forum and served on the boards of other professional journals, namely, Long Range Planning, Technological Forecasting and Social Change and On the Horizon.
In 1994, Ian married the poet and writer, Adrianne Marcus. Also a Fellow, Adrianne worked as a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle as well as numerous other magazines and newspapers. She also wrote several works of non-fiction including The Chocolate Bible and The Photojournalist: Mark & Leibovitz. She had more than 400 poems published in such magazines as Atlantic Monthly and The Nation, as well as a large number of smaller poetry magazines. After they married, the couple took up residence in San Rafael. Adrianne and Ian pursued their passions for travel, fine food, collecting the work of local and international artists and, in later years, for breeding and raising dogs beginning with wolf/dog hybrids and then Wind Hounds.
Ian and Adrianne had three residencies at VCCA together in the 1990s working on their respective writing projects. Their appreciation for VCCA was reflected in their generous support of the organization.
In 2009, Adrianne succumbed to cancer, as did Ian's daughter, the New York photographer Ellen Wilson, a year later. Ian is survived by his first wife, Page, his four remaining daughters: Rebecca Armstrong, Madison, CT, Dori Wilson, Norwalk, CT, Holly Luce, Denville, N.J., and Alexandra Wilson, Austin, Texas; his step-daughters, Stacey Marcus, Santa Rosa, CA, Shelby Marcus, Paris, France and Sarah Marcus, Portland, OR, 15 grandchildren and a trio of wind hounds: Misty, Mercury and Winter.
VCCA extends its condolences to Ian’s family and friends.