Bert Wilson died last night. He was a good man, a great scholar, and a wonderful mentor. I will miss him tremendously. I will remember his keen smile, his quick wit, and his sigh of wisdom. He was brilliant, yet everyday in his approach - academic yet pure-blood Idahoan. Perfect blend - something I try to mirror.
Bert taught me how to be comfortable writing scholarly about every day life. He taught me that I could be the expert on my culture, and then he grilled me, making sure I could support my claims. He was my go-to when it came to Mormon culture, to missionary culture. Of my thesis he said, "Every mission president should read this, so they better understand missionaries and their relationships with their mothers." I felt that my work had been validated!
Thirteen years ago, I graduated from USU with my degree in Folklore. I did not attend graduation, but rather, a couple of weeks later Bert came to my house, and in a surprise home graduation, he gave me my diploma. It was a beautiful night.
I had the privilege of spending time at his house about twelve years ago, looking through his photo albums, listening to his and Hannele's stories about their lives. Aaah, good storytellers.
I will miss you, Bert. Thank you for the lessons and the legacy. (Photos from 2003 in honor of Bert and the dedication of the William A Wilson Folklore Archives at BYU; photos and food that I coordinated.)