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County fair race honors Dee Wilson, long-time Pleasanton business, civic leader

Remembered as 'pillar in community' in winner's circle ceremonies at fairgrounds

DeWitt Wilson, the long-time Pleasanton businessman and developer, who died earlier this year at the age of 90, was honored at the Alameda County Fair Sunday when the fourth horserace of the day was named in his honor.

The race was named, "In Memory of DeWitt Wilson, Director Emeritus Alameda County Fair," with the highlight being the honoring of his family in the winner's circle following the race. There, his wife of 60 years was presented with flowers before posing for a picture with Russell Baze, the winning jockey in the fourth.

"Dee was a pillar in the community," said long-time friend Tony Macchiano. "He did a lot for the community quietly. He gave a lot of himself and gave a lot monetarily."

Wilson was instrumental in helping Pleasanton and its surrounding cities in a number of ways. He served on the City Council from 1986 to 1988 and before that was a a member of the Pleasanton Planning Commission from 1978-1986. He also served as a BART director from 1973-75 and spent 36 years as an Alameda County Fair director.

"Dee had a lot of old stories about the Fair and the people," said Macchiano. "I think the way the grounds look is a lot of his doing."

He and his wife Shirley gave the Century House in Pleasanton to the city as well as the money to make necessary improvements. He also was part of a three-man group who organized the construction of the new City Council chambers in 1982 without any cost to the city.

Wilson was partners with the late George Spiliotopolous in the Cheese Factory, which had outlets in Pleasanton, Santa Cruz and at the Oakland Airport. Wilson also served on the Board of Directors for the George A. Spiliotopolous Invitational Tournament golf event, an organization which is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year and has been responsible for over $1 million in college scholarships to graduating Pleasanton high school students.

In addition to everything Wilson did over the years for the city, he was a great person as well. Spend five minutes with him and he made you feel like a life-long friend, those who knew him said.

"He was an all-around good guy," said Macchiano. "He was a giant of a man. He had a way of just meeting someone and getting into a long conversation with them. He was that kind of guy."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Capilla
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2010 at 7:51 am

Dee Wilson is an unforgettable man. He accomplished so much in his life, but you had to learn that from his friends because he was too modest to talk about his own achievements. He was a warm and truly caring man that had a subtle way of bringing out the best in the people he’d meet.

He and Shirley’s kindness always extended to children as well. Being such deeply family oriented people they continually and graciously offered their time to the youngest of our citizens. Our family will never forget our forays into Dee’s prized tomato garden, the fruits of which he was proud and generous to share with those he knew.

Dee Wilson, beyond doubt, left the World in general and Pleasanton in particular a better place through his selfless and altruistic actions. His legacy will live on forever.


Like this comment
Posted by Cody Minnig
a resident of Dublin
on Jul 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm

This is my Great Grandfahter, I loved him alot more than he may have realized. The most recent memory I have of him is when I had been home for Christmas on leave through the US Air Force. I am still new but he had seemed very out of it the time I saw him, but for some odd reason I cannot explain he had too clear up completely when he had seen me in my uniform. It touched me more than ever, he was amazing man even before I really knew how much he had given the the local populace. This moment had touched me so much I had to walk out of the room and luckily my Great Grandmother Shirley had wanted a coffee at the same time and it kept me from beginning to sob in front of my Great Grandfather who had shown such strength. Long story short, I hope someday I could be half the man he was.

Love you Grandpa!
A1C Cody R. Minnig USAF


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