Wilson, Grace

Last updated: December 20, 2013

The Lusk Herald
May 17, 1898

Grace Wilson: continuing business of her husband

Grace Wilson is a quiet woman who has continued to run Wilson's Plumbing and Heating business after her husband died in November 1972.

She was born June 5, 1902, near Fremont, Neb., and moved to Wyoming with her parents in 1908. Her parents homesteaded at Keeline. The family started with only 160 acres and slowly built up the acreage to make a living, she said.

She attended school at Keeline, graduating from the eighth grade. Her schooling was in a country school, which consisted of about 25-30 children in the same room, all being taught by the same teacher.

"And boy could she teach," Wilson said of Ella s. Watson, her first school teacher.

After graduating, she wanted to become a telephone operator, but the job only paid $10 a month and workers had to provide their own room and board, so she went to work as a domestic worker. She was paid $10 a month plus room and board. She worked at that for about two years.

She married David F. Wilson on Feb. 14, 1922, and had an instant family as he had two children, Louise Ollie Hasson, now living in Hillsboro, Ore., and Earl Wilson, now deceased. (the first Mrs. Wilson died during the flu epidemic of 1914). The Wilsons had four more daughters, Ruth Snow, now living in Evanston; Grace Ellen Powers, Yankton, S.D.; Lorraine Wasserburger, Lusk; and Davenne Glandt, Cheyenne.

The family lived in Douglas, where David worked for Charlie Clark as a sheet metal man. The family bought a home in Douglas and lived in the town for about 18 1/2 years, Wilson said. She said things were not going well as her husband was doing more and more of the management duties. She asked him why he did not go into business for himself. She said he asked around and found a business for sale in Lusk and they came to see it the next weekend. They borrowed money and bought the business that had belonged to Sam Langford.

The Wilsons came to Lusk in 1937. They rented a little lean-to on the back of Payne Hardware for a sheet metal work area, Wilson said, adding that they had some trouble finding a place to live and she hated the idea of having to pay $25 rent for a house and $15 rent for a building - a lot of money in those days. The family later moved their home in Douglas to Lusk and remodeled it.

In 1944, the couple bought a building from Joe Steskal. It was a bakery at the time. They did their work out of that building for five years.

"Dave did a lot of sheet metal work in Lance Creek for the oil field," Wilson said. He also plumbed and put heating in houses in Lance Creek," she said.

Wilson said her husband traveled as far away as Susex (Wyo.) to plumb and put heating in houses there during the oil boom in that area.

The present site of Wilson's Plumbing and Heating used to be two buildings, a hamburger shop and an electrical shop. The couple bought the buildings, tore them down and used the lumber to build the present building, which houses the barber shop and the Wilson's business. The present building was built in 1959, Wilson said.

Wilson said the couple's son worked with them for a short time before going into the service with the National Guard. He spent a year at Fort Lewis, Wash., she said, adding that he was home on leave when Pearl harbor was bombed and had to leave immediately to report for duty. He saw service in the war, she said.

Later, he went to Australia, met his wife and got married there. When he came back to the states, he went to Missouri to get further training in the sheet metal business and lived there for a time. He was electrocuted about six months after his father's death in 1973, while working on a sheet metal job in California. His wife died in 1986.

Wilson said she and her husband used to have four men working for them at one time during their busy years. Then they had to cut down to two and then one. She kept one man around for about 10 years after her husband died and now had part time workers.

She says it has been hard to find men who know how to do the work she needs done. She has worked with the men on various jobs doing plumbing and sheet metal work herself. She also cuts and threads pipe.

She said she still does some small sheet metal work and she still cuts and threads pipe for anyone who needs it. She also still sells faucets and plumbing joints, as well as copper tubing.

"We've (she and her husband) enjoyed Lusk. It's a nice little town. People are friendly and nice to deal with," she said.

Her hobbies include crocheting, which she has done since she was 12, gardening and yardwork.

She also boasts of having 19 grandchildren and "a lot" of great-grandchildren.




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