Friendswood ISD grieves the loss of a pillar of the FISD family, Walter Wilson, who passed away on March 11.
During his 36 years of service in FISD, Wilson served in many roles, but perhaps the role he was best known for was being a friend to all. When Wilson is remembered, words such as “kind,” “passionate,” “caring,” “influential” and “exceptional” come to mind. He showed these qualities throughout his life.
Wilson began his career in education in 1966 as a science teacher and head basketball coach at Friendswood High School. Under his direction, the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team advanced to the State Tournament in 1968, 1969 and 1971.
The team won the State Championship in 1969 and instantly became a topic of pride for Wilson, his family and the Friendswood community. His athletic impact was huge and the FHS Field House was named in his honor.
With his Bachelor’s Degree from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M Kingsville) and Master’s Degree from Sam Houston State University, Wilson advanced up the ranks in the education system.
Wilson served as Assistant Principal of FHS from 1970 to 1974. He then took the lead as the school’s principal until 1977 when he transferred to administration to become the Assistant Superintendent. In 1998, Wilson was appointed as the ninth Superintendent of FISD.
As Superintendent, Wilson was adamant about creating the best possible educational experience for the students of Friendswood.
“Walter was especially gifted in bringing a sense of calm and order to the school district during a turbulent period. He initiated regular communication and greater cooperation between FISD and the city. That continues today,” Councilmember and former FISD Superintendent Trish Hanks said. “Although we could not have predicted how significant the contribution of the FISD Education Foundation would become, it was created under Walter’s leadership and will positively impact students for years to come.”
His great support of various educational programs led to the creation of the Friendswood ISD Education Foundation in 1999 which has given more than $1.7 million back to students and teachers over the past 20 years.
After retiring in 2002, Wilson continued to leave his mark on the district.
In 2012, the Friendswood ISD Education Foundation and the FHS Alumni Association presented him with the Honorary Alumnus Award for his many years of outstanding service.
However, perhaps Wilson’s greatest legacy is one that cannot be measured or given an award. To most, Wilson’s biggest impact was the one he left on the hearts of those he served. From taking time during practice to encourage his athletes during his time as a coach, to writing personalized notes to students every morning while he was Superintendent, Wilson always found a way to do the little things and make everyone around him feel special.
“As his assistant, I saw Walter constantly demonstrate how much he cared for students, parents, teachers, and staff. We are all blessed that the timing of his career and the city’s expansion allowed Walter to professionally grow and eventually lead FISD from 1998 to 2002. He was the right Superintendent at the right time,” Hanks said. “He never missed the opportunity to make everyone individually feel important. Today there is a generation of adults who received that and is passing it on to others.”
Wilson helped shape current FISD Superintendent Thad Roher and to instill pride.
“Walter Wilson was a Friendswood pillar,” Roher said. “I knew Walter as a student and administrator in FISD. He shaped my view of Mustang pride and its importance and foundational value to our community. I will miss talking basketball, kids, and Friendswood pride with him.”
Though FISD and the City of Friendswood mourn the passing of the incredible man who was Walter Wilson, he continues to live on with those who knew him through every dribble of a basketball, every teaching moment and every kind word spoken. Services pending.