Gwyneth Ann Wilson, 65

Sat, 01/21/2023 - 10:30am
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Gwyneth Ann Wilson, 65, of Block Island, R.I. and Milwaukee, Wis., passed away unexpectedly on November 15, 2022. She was a beloved mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, who left behind her son Michael Price (and wife Kenda), her daughter Sara Price (and partner Zach), her dog Fozzie Bear, and the newest member of the family, Nala-Nala the cat. Known to those closest to her as “Mom,” “Mama,” “Gwyn,” or “Winnie,” she was a warm, witty, down-to-earth force of nature whose generosity, independent spirit, and work ethic were only exceeded by her fierce love for her children.

Gwyn was born on February 27, 1957 to her parents, Donald and Julie (McKeon) Wilson in Summit, New Jersey. She is also survived by her brothers and sisters Andrew, Bryan, Jeanie, Katie, Sean, and Suzie, as well as their many loved ones. Although they were sometimes separated by space or time, her connection to the Wilson clan was deeply rooted and she spoke of them lovingly and often. She was incredibly proud of her siblings and their accomplishments in life, and always held them close to her heart.

In the late 70s, she headed to the Midwest for a brief 25-year stop-over in Illinois and Wisconsin, but her heart was always on the East Coast. She was a proud Northwestern University graduate and went on to earn her MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee while her children were young. In her long career, she was most proud of her accomplishments as a small business owner, first owning and operating an antique store in Wisconsin and then as an artist later in her life.

A collegiate-level volleyball player as well as a high school coach and referee, she lovingly passed down her father’s legacy and taught Michael and Sara to love the sport (and to appreciate their height!). She met her best friends for life, Bob and Mark, through volleyball and always wished she could have played long beyond the time her feet and knees decided it was time to quit.

A bit of a nomad, Gwyn would go on to make homes in numerous states after her kids headed off to college (and both of them to New England, to no one’s surprise). She had the ability to pack up everything she owned at the drop of a hat to move somewhere new and exciting or to be closer to one of her children. Unlike many, Gwyn was never afraid of change.

Her one constant home was on Block Island, where she lived during summers as a child, and as a year-round resident later in life. She often shared memories of the “Daddy Boat” and waiting for her beloved father Don to come in from the city on weekends when she was a child. Thirteen years ago, during a battle with stage 4 cancer (a battle she won handily), she began hunting the beaches on the island for sea glass as a form of therapy. She quickly started turning her finds into extraordinary jewelry and works of art. Her preferred place to wash and sort her sea glass finds was on the deck of the Wilson cottage at the end of Cooneymus Road, taking in her favorite view of the ocean just beyond the willow trees.

Gwyn was a no-frills kind of person, most comfortable hanging out in a hoodie and jeans and watching a Jane Austen movie. In fact, she was the first person in a movie theater to scold loud talkers, something that mortified her children until years later, when they found themselves adopting just the same approach. She loved to tickle an audience with tales (some taller than others) from her eventful life. She was a sucker for a man with an Irish accent or a Scottish brogue, and when speaking of Sean Connery, Tom Selleck, or Peter Dinklage, she would often deploy her catchphrase, “I’d marry him if he asked me.”

Aside from those fine actors and her kids, her great loves were her dogs Fozzie, Martin and Winston. She enjoyed few things in life more than a trip to the dog park with her “guys.” She preferred to spend the rest of her free time enjoying a game night or a soak in the hot tub with her best friends, chatting everyday with her beloved daughter, or enjoying a home-cooked meal from Mike whenever he made the trip from California.

Her pride and love for her kids was immeasurable. She threw them world-class birthday parties and regularly soothed their worries with a cup of Constant Comment. Her hugs, silly dances and comforting phone calls will forever be irreplaceable. She would do just about anything for Michael and Sara, like the time that a 12-year-old Mike famously told her he needed a cello and a model rocket for school at 8 p.m. the night before (which she of course delivered). She loved planning a last-minute trip for the three of them, be it out of state or just to a local hotel (as long as they had a swimming pool). She taught them to hate and then eventually love antique hunting and to appreciate the best features of older homes: bead board ceilings, original wood floors and stained glass windows. But nothing bonded this little family of three together more than the yearly trek cross-country to Block Island.

Gwyn handed down countless island traditions that will be passed onto the next generation; though they’ll never meet her, her grandkids will be inundated with warm stories of their wonderful grandmother. They’ll enjoy long days at Scotch Beach full of body surfing, reading, and napping, with lunches consisting of roast beef and provolone on rye (with lots of onions, mayo, and a little crunch of beach sand) from the B.I. Grocery. They’ll go on early morning “sinker” donut runs, hunt for the best clamming spots, throw shells on the cottage driveway, sneak down private roads (because “the rich people don’t own this place”), and perhaps most crucially, they’ll be taught their grandmother’s finely honed technique for heckling daytripping moped riders.

Mom, Gwyn, Winnie…we love you more than any of these words can express. We love you a bushel and a peck. You were our sunshine. You left us much too soon, but we will find you in that in-between bit, on the edges of our dreams, on that volleyball court in the sky.

A small, intimate service will be held on Block Island, R.I. in late January followed by a larger celebration of her life open to all friends and well-wishers during the Shad Bloom Trail Run 10K weekend on Block Island in early May of 2023.

To honor Gwyn, please consider taking a ride on the top deck of Block Island Ferry (traditional only!) or donating to one of the following organizations: Rhode Island SPCA, Wisconsin Humane Society or to the Alzheimer’s Association.