Lee passed away unexpectedly from a cardiac-related event on the evening of Sunday, April 26, 2020 in Woodland, CA. He was 64 years old. Lee will be deeply missed by all who loved him and had the privilege of knowing him.
Lee was born on May 21, 1955 in Mexico City, Mexico to Jim and Joyce Wilson, American career missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. In the spring of 1958, when Lee was not yet three years old, the family was transferred from rural Oaxaca, Mexico to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when Lee’s father was reassigned to a depositional post working with the Brazilian federal government. Lee’s first memories were of the house where the family lived in Rio. As young boys, Lee and his two older brothers, Neil and Ian, would play endlessly–flying kites in the favelas of Rio, swimming at Ipanema beach, and getting into all kinds of mischief. Later, the Wilson family welcomed a daughter, Susan, when Lee was seven years old. In 1964, when the capital of Brazil was moved to the brand-new city of Brasilia, the family moved once again. From a young age, Lee was bilingual–speaking Portuguese with his friends in the neighborhood and speaking English with his family. When Lee was 14 years old, the family moved back to the suburbs of Chicago. Lee had a terrible time adjusting to his new surroundings–tropical heat traded for bitter Chicago winters and small American schools abroad where everyone knew your name exchanged for a public high school of 3,000 students. Thankfully, with the persistent and steadfast love of his family, and the encouragement of the principal of an alternative high school, Lee was able to earn his high school diploma a whole year early.
Lee spent his late teens and early twenties crisscrossing between Brazil and the USA, working odd jobs, saving, and then traveling. On one particularly memorable trip, when he was just seventeen, Lee hitchhiked from Brasilia all the way to Chicago, making stops in Columbia, Costa Rica, and crossing the US/Mexico border into Laredo, Texas on his 18th birthday. It was on this trip that he first picked up Spanish and added that to his toolbelt of languages. Lee always enjoyed working but found his true calling in the travel industry when he got a job handling cargo baggage for Pan American Transworld Airlines in Brasilia in the mid-seventies. After that, he worked for Swissair and later became a travel agent in LA in the late seventies. In 1981, on one memorable business-sponsored trip to Houston, he met another travel agent, Dru Loomis, and sparks flew. Leveraging his industry expertise, a seat change was made on the flight home to sit next to Dru. From this point on they were inseparable; the two were married on September 11, 1982 in Pasadena, California.
Their life together began in Southern California in Westwood and shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Manhattan Beach. Soon they were joined by son Stephen and daughter Rebecca. Lee and his young family later moved to Phoenix, AZ where he attended night school to earn his college degree while working full-time at American Express. In 1993, the family moved to Davis, CA when Lee was recruited by a former client and began working for Innosys, Inc., an airline reservation software company in the Bay Area. Lee worked tirelessly to build a life for himself and his family. Lee and Dru resided in Davis until 2016 when they moved to South Woodland, their current residence.
Lee had a passion for commercial aviation and travel, and constantly made time to explore the world, sometimes on his own and many times with family or friends. He had a great parlor trick of being able to identify nearly any plane flying overhead. He was also an avid collector of stamps, and a lover of music. He could whistle through his teeth and instantly work out and sing the harmony to complement the melody of any song. He was trilingual and multicultural, and language fascinated him. Lee had a one-of-a-kind personality, a dry sense of humor, and was often reserved on the surface. But underneath, for those who knew him, he was an incredibly warm and kind-hearted person.
Lee faced several medical-related hurdles over the course of his life but was able to leverage these to become a self-taught health expert. His physicians and caregivers were wowed by his understanding and intimate knowledge of his health and treatment plans and remarked that his expertise was second to that of a physician. At UCSF in July of 2018, Lee became the recipient of a successful liver transplant from a live donor, his 22-year-old nephew Jonathan, his sister Susan’s youngest son.
Lee also touched countless lives through his fellowship and service in the Recovery and spiritual communities. He loved God and was a member of FBC Davis Church where he was involved in Stephen Ministry for over a decade, walking alongside people in some of the most difficult seasons of their lives. He was a mentor to many and was passionate about training others in all that he had learned. He was a friend of Bill W. for more than 22 years.
Lee remarked every day that he never would have dreamed of having such a wonderful life. He often said that he had the best family in the world, and that it was by the grace of God that he was alive.
Lee was preceded in death by his father, Jim. He is survived by his wife Dru, his son Stephen (Irina), daughter Rebecca, his mother, Joyce, his brothers, Neil (Sherrie) and Ian (MaryJane), his sister Susan (Mark), and uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and large and loving extended families on both the Wilson and Loomis sides.
Donations in Lee’s honor may be sent to your local public radio station.