J. Morris Wilson

May 1, 1931 - March 17, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Friday, March 25, 2016
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Gracewil CC


Saturday, March 26, 2016
11:00 AM EDT
Gracewil Country Club
2597 4 Mile Road NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49544


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
4328 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Throughout his rich and rewarding life, J. Morris Wilson was a hardworking man of great strength, courage, and devotion to his loved ones.

The 1930s were largely defined by the Great Depression, but John Allen and Marion May (Morris) Wilson were able to celebrate with the birth of their son, John Morris, on May 1, 1931, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born legally deaf at birth, he was the older of two Wilson children as he was followed by his younger sister, Marilyn. Because there were many "Johns" in his family, he generally went by Morris. He attended a school for the deaf, but because his mother wanted to make sure he would be able to get by in everyday life she made sure that he could read lips well. This allowed Morris to move on to Union High School where he was a talented athlete who loved football, played baseball, and was also a gifted golfer. He learned to work hard at the family dairy farm and also at the family golf course that his father and grandfather started in 1929.

New and exciting changes were in store for Morris when he was set up on a blind date with Virginia Chandler. He picked her up and took her to Pickerel Lake in his new car. Deeply in love, they were married on April 2, 1955, at Trinity Congregational Church. Morris and Virginia built their home in 1957, and after it was destroyed by the 1965 tornado they built another. Together they raised their three sons, Rod, Mark, and John.

Morris took some correspondence classes in architecture and design. Talented, he even designed a few buildings and homes in the area. In the late seventies the family expanded and he spent many hours at Gracewil Pines in Jackson, Michigan, designing and constructing the course. Morris never really slowed down much, and he continued even this spring to be a fixture mowing on the golf course.

Although he worked many hours, Morris also enjoyed life. He was there to support his children and grandchildren in their activities, but he also made sure they knew how to work. Later in life Morris and Virginia wintered in Tarpon Springs, Florida, but he always looked forward to getting back to work. In his free time he enjoyed reading the paper, watching the History Channel, and drawing. Morris also liked socializing with family and longtime patrons of the course. Even after Virginia’s death in 2013, he lived on his own while continuing to work and visit with his family.

Morris enjoyed reminiscing and retelling stories from his youth. A kindhearted person, and loving family man, J. Morris Wilson will be forever missed.

J. Morris Wilson, age 84 of Grand Rapids, passed away March 17, 2016. He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Virginia; by his son, Rod, and by his granddaughter, Danielle Wilson; and brother-in-law Russ Johnsen. Morris is survived by his sons Mark (Kate) and John (Kathy), daughter-in-law Debi Laird; grandchildren John M. (Pam) Wilson, Stacy Ansmits (Brent Blossom) , Rachelle Wilson, Ashley (Nate) Bertolini, and Ty Wilson; 10 great-grandchildren; sister, Marilyn Johnsen as well as nieces, nephews and friends. Morris spent his entire life working at his family business, Gracewil Country Club, first alongside his grandfather, father and sister - later with his sons, grandchildren and nieces. He loved his work and continued even this spring to be a fixture mowing on the golf course.

Morris was also a great artist interested in architecture and design. He took great pride in designing and constructing Gracewil Pines as well as the second 18 hole course at Gracewil CC. Friends are invited to visit with his family at Gracewil Club house on Friday March 25, from 6-8 PM and on Saturday from 10 AM until the Memorial service that will start at 11 AM. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, 4328 Kalamazoo, SE. To read more about Morris' life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com