One 91-year-old man is not letting age stop him from fulfilling a life-long dream.
A former Fort Scottian has published a book, In His Own Words: The Harold Hughes Story.
“The book is co-authored by my father, Russell Wilson,” said Connie Wilson. “He is a robust 91-years-old and he and my 91-year-old mother live in the house they have lived in since 1964 in Des Moines, Iowa.”
“It was a lifelong dream to write a book so that others could know the man he knew so well,” his daughter said in an email.
Wilson was friends with and then worked for Iowa Governor and U.S. Senator Harold Hughes for years, he said.
“Hughes evolved from a troubled alcoholic to become one of the most respected, effective, and humane political leaders in the United States,” Wilson said.
“I write to you because I think some folks in my hometown who remember me or know about Hughes’ legacy might
be interested in knowing about the book,” Russell Wilson said in an email.
“During my time as a pastor at the Church of God in Ida Grove, Iowa, in the 1950s, I met Harold Hughes and we began a lifelong friendship.”
In 1964 Wilson was asked by then-Governor Hughes to work on the Iowa Board of Control for State Institutions.
“I worked with him for four years in that capacity and we remained friends until his death,” Wilson said.
“It has been my longtime dream to write a book revealing the character of this man as I knew him.”
Russell Wilson’s Remembrances of Fort Scott
Russell Wilson sent memories of his life in Fort Scott.
His parents were George and Ina Wilson, and they lived at 124 North Broadway.
“I went to Eugene Ware Grade School and graduated from Fort Scott High School in 1947, as well as attending a few classes at the community college,” Russell Wilson said in an email. “My
contemporaries would know me as ‘Guss’ Wilson.”
His parents were born and raised in Fort Scott, and Russell and his sister, Jeanette, were raised here as well.
“My maternal grandparents, Chick and Sadie Riley, were also born and raised in Fort Scott, as was my paternal grandmother, Clara Wilson.
“Chick (also called Jessie) ran the barbershop on the main street. My father’s sister, Gladys Wilson, also lived in Fort Scott and was married to District Judge Harry Fisher when she died.
“My dad was a pressman at Standard Advertising and also worked for the local Heraldette newspaper.
“My mom also worked for those businesses and ran a letterpress that imprinted fans and other advertising products.
“My oldest daughter is a graphic designer and inherited their love of printing. When my mom was almost 100 years old Connie would take her to the printer just so she could smell the ink on the presses. Mom said it brought back wonderful memories of her days in the print shops in Fort Scott.
“For a few years, my mom ran the Country Kitchen Restaurant on the east end of town. She made the best curly french fries! Some folks might remember the restaurant and the fireworks stand and carousel that were next to it in the summer.
“My folks were lifelong members of the Church of God.
“Growing up I remember a lot about the Frisco Railroad and it was a big part of my life. We lived at 125 North Broadway, about a block from the roundhouse. As a junior in high school, I worked as a crew caller on the railroad. From 10 pm to 6 am it was my job to wake the crews and let them know when their trains were scheduled to arrive or leave. I also sold magazines and candy bars to the soldiers on the troop trains during WWII.
“I went to Fort Scott High School. Some of my contemporaries might remember me as Guss Wilson. I had a dance band called the Guss Wilson Band and I played football during my senior year. And I remember spending a lot of time in the summer at the local swimming pool.
“I remember the Fort. In fact, a photo that my mother gave to the current museum of my great grandfather as a soldier on horseback provided the dimension reference needed to determine the correct measurements for the horse barn. I believe that photo hangs in the museum today and was made into a postcard that the Fort hand out.
“I left Fort Scott after graduating from high school and went to Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio where I met my wife, June. After we were married in Fort Scott in 1949, we moved to Shambaugh, Iowa, where I served as a pastor at the Church of God and where our first child, Connie, was born in 1952.
“June and I have been married for 71 years and have raised our 4 children—Connie, Bruce, Clarice, and Kristin—in a number of towns in Iowa. We currently live in our home in Des Moines. My mother, Ina, lived here in Des Moines until her death at 100 years. We have three grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.”
Russell Wilson’s email is