GLASGOW – A veteran whose passion was working hard to assist other veterans succumbed Monday morning to his final battle – against cancer.
On Aug. 23, Michael “Mike” Wilson, 66, whose service in the Navy included time in the Vietnam War, posted publicly on Facebook, “I really appreciate all the prayers people have sent up for me, but ask you to do them in a different priority. You see, when my time comes to go, [I] made preparation on June 19th, 1968, to meet my Creator, so I'm ready to go. So please make your priority in prayers that those not ready to face the Creator to do so now.”
The selflessness exhibited in that statement, based on friends' descriptions and actions witnessed, was classic Wilson.
Sheri Eubank, who co-founded the Veterans Support and Assistance Office of Southcentral Kentucky with Wilson, said he was the most selfless person she had known. Even while he's been ill, he would call her and tell her about someone who needed help and ask for someone to check on them, she said.
“Everything was about anything he could do for anyone else,” Eubank said. “It did not matter who walked in with what kind of trouble, he made sure they left with hope and a smile.”
Eubank, a real estate agent, said she met him through the sale of his house and trying to help him find an apartment right at four years ago. They were talking about how they both knew veterans who had trouble accessing benefits they were due or other resources, so they decided to come up with an office where they might be able to help some people.
“At that moment, we thought it was a huge wonderful idea, but we didn't realize how big it was going to get,” she said.
About two years later, that happened in spring 2018 at 315 S. Green St.
Eubank said the office is in the process of moving to Lera B. Mitchell Clubhouse, 1214 S. Green St. and will be opening there by October.
Darrell Pickett, former Glasgow mayor and police chief and Barren County Veterans Association chair for several years, said he came to know Wilson a few years ago when Wilson was spearheading a reunion for members of the military who had served on Midway Island and their families. ... Pickett was on the organizing committee.
“My heart is broken,” he said. “Mike had a heart for veterans and since taking over this new office he was involved with, he has done so much for veterans when they couldn't get help from anybody else.”
Pickett said he knew of people who had tried unsuccessfully for years to get benefits.
“But Mike was able to get the job done,” he said. “He saw to it.”
Many veterans have benefited from Wilson's work.
“He was a man of gold in my book,” Pickett said.
Matt Mutter said he heard about this Midway Island Reunion idea and went to the first meeting just out of curiosity.
“Mike was the kind of person it was hard to say no to,” Mutter said. “Before I left, I was signed on to be treasurer for the group and still have been for the past five years. … I wasn't going to say no to Mike because I knew he was passionate about it and you could just see how excited he was to have a naval reunion here in southcentral Kentucky.”
He said about 250 to 300 people came from all over the country for the long-weekend event in 2014 that Wilson initiated. Another took place the following year, and then they skipped a couple of years and had the next one in 2017, coinciding with the 75th anniversary year of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“That's how we first got to know each other then found out we were both in the Navy,” Mutter said, and they “just clicked” from there.
“He was quite a bit older but we still could share stories that we both related to,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wilson set quite an example for Mutter, 49, and others with his continuing service.
“If you were going to keep up with Mike Wilson and everything he did in a day's time, you'd better eat your Wheaties that day,” Mutter said.
Wilson was also the current commander of Glasgow-based Disabled American Veterans Chapter 20 and long served on its honor guard, sometimes being called to a couple of funerals or multiple events in a day.
“It's hard not to get excited when you're around him, and it kind of bled off on me,” he said. “That was basically his life as along as I've known him, trying to serve veterans and to get other people involved in it."
Charles Logsdon, senior vice commander of the DAV chapter, said Wilson was “a super guy to work with.”
“I've known Mike for a long time, in fact he was kin folks with my wife,” Logsdon said. “He was the type of person that when he done something he done it his way and done it 100 percent to benefit other people. Mike was not a selfish person. He cared about his country. He cared so much about veterans because Mike was, so to speak, like myself – he was a Vietnam veteran. He knew they weren't getting the benefits they should. Mike found a way to get through and get the benefits that our veterans need in Barren County and in surrounding counties.”
Logsdon said Wilson was a God-loving person.
“He always found ways to talk to people and let people understand that he was going to help them. It was not to help him. Mike never put himself first. Mike was a person that he was a role model. He wanted people to understand that there was a better way to get things done."
Logsdon said Wilson was also a fun-loving person, too.
“He would joke. He would get people's attention and they would laugh. He would put a smile on their face before they left,” he said, but ultimately, it was about the service. “The love of his life was to go to bed at night knowing that he had helped a veteran.”
Local public visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at A.F. Crow & Son Funeral Home in Glasgow. Visitation will continue at Lake Cumberland Funeral Home in Somerset beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time Friday, with the funeral at 1 EDT and full military honors at burial, Eubank said.