Former Election Registrar Rick Wilson Dies At 76

Sunday, March 28, 2021
Rick Wilson
Rick Wilson

Dr. Richard L. "Rick" Wilson, who served as registrar of elections in Hamilton County from 1977-1984 and was a longtime UTC political science professor, has died at 76  following a lengthy battle with health issues.

He was born in Worthington, MN on Dec. 20, 1944. Upon graduation from Worthington High School, he went on to earn a political science degree at the University of Chicago in 1966. He earned a Doctorate in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in May, 1971 and began a career teaching political science spanning five decades at UTC.

He spent the 1986-87 school year in a teaching exchange program at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing, China, then returned there for the 1988-89 school year on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at Beijing University.

That school year was cut short by the student protests at Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989.

In 1991, Dr. Wilson took a two-year sabbatical to teach at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, then returned to UTC where he closed out his career in 2015.

He began renting rooms to students when he purchased a pair of homes near the UTC campus in 1994. He purchased a third home in the same neighborhood near the end of his teaching career and made it a haven for international students and foreign exchange faculty members.

Dr. Wilson also served as Chattanooga's Election Commissioner from 1977-84. He was a lifelong Democrat, but made many Republican friends over the years and even campaigned for some of them in local races.

He wrote 13 books, which won national awards and several book chapters, editorial page essays, book reviews and articles on politics and history during his career, in addition to extensive editing duties of books and encyclopedias. Outside the classroom, Dr. Wilson earned a private pilot license and was an avid photographer.

He was preceded in death by his father, Roy, and his mother, Dorothy.

He is survived by his son Kevin (Pam) and grandsons, Rowan and Michael; a sister, Rose (Craig) Clemmensen; a brother, Bruce (Pam) Wilson; and a nephew, Tyler (Vanessa) Wilson Clemmensen.

A funeral service in his hometown in Worthington, MN is planned for this summer.

Please visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share words of comfort to the family.

Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.

 


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