Dan Wilson
 
 
By Dave Stave
 
Dan Wilson was welcomed as the Midday Rotary Club of Gig Harbor's new president at an installation dinner Tuesday, June 26, at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.
 
Wilson, a former executive director for Del Monte, has been a member of Rotary since November 2011, when he joined the Enumclaw Club. He transferred to the Midday Club of Gig Harbor in 2014. He and his wife, Lois, will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary on Nov. 27. They met at Oregon State University and have no children. Lois, previously the director of operations for the West Coast for a Norwegian ocean transportation line in San Francisco, also worked in corporate finance for CHI Franciscan Health Systems. She now is a volunteer with Franciscan Hospice.
 
Wilson explains how he and Lois came to Gig Harbor in 1996.
 
“After the mass of humanity and smog that was Manila (Philippines), we came across the Narrows Bridge on a beautiful July day, with the Sound like peaceful glass and the Olympics in all their glory.  One look and we were hooked, deciding to make Gig Harbor our home,” he said.
 
His work overseas
 
For 25 years Wilson worked for Del Monte, living in San Francisco for 13 years and then 12 years overseas including Cape Town, South Africa, as managing director, London as vice president of operations for Europe and Africa, four years in Hawaii running the Del Monte pineapple operation, and two years in Manila, The Philippines, as executive vice president for Asia-Pacific.
 
“After retiring, I couldn’t catch salmon and couldn’t hit the golf ball straight, so I answered a call to ministry, entering seminary at age 55,” Wilson said. “I received my master of divinity degree from the Catholic school Seattle University (…a Lutheran pastor trained by the Jesuits!) and I served three congregations: Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Stevenson, Wash., Agnus Dei Lutheran in Gig Harbor, and Hope Lutheran Church in Enumclaw, Wash.”  He completed his doctor of ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2014.
 
Wilson, 70, describes himself as “currently retired but still active in ministry.”
 
“I tried retiring again in 2014, but will have to see if that really sticks,” he said.
 
The 2018-19 Midday Rotary president was born in Yakima, Wash., and grew up in nearby Toppenish. He graduated from South Salem High School in Salem, Ore., in 1966, and earned a degree in agriculture from Oregon State University, graduating in 1970.
 
Wilson, the oldest of six children, thinks about all the miles he’s logged since his boyhood days in Toppenish.
“It only took me 34 years and more than a million miles to make the three-hour trip from Toppenish (to Gig Harbor),” he said.
 
Lessons from Crossroads
 
Wilson reflects on the fascinating life he had living overseas.
 
“I have had an interesting and eclectic career,” he said.  “As an international corporate executive, we’ve been blessed to live in three foreign countries and have done business in a total of 33 countries.  I’ve flown on the Concorde, and literally flown around the world several times. Together, Lois and I have traveled to more than 50 countries."
 
He said his most “amazing experience” occurred while he was in Cape Town, South Africa, in a squatter camp called Crossroads.
 
 “Crossroads had over 100,000 refugees, three water taps, no electricity, sewage or garbage, and yet it was there that I experienced the most amazing faith and hope from a people who had nothing,” Wilson said. “I went to Crossroads to help the people, yet, they changed my life forever. That experience eventually led me to ministry.” 
 
Wilson said he and Lois were in Cape Town to see the president of South Africa “as he shook his finger at the world in support of apartheid, and we left the country for the last time (in 1990) the day after Nelson Mandela walked out of prison about 20 miles away.”
 
As a Lutheran minister, Wilson said the “most satisfying and spiritually rewarding things I have done include baptizing new babies, baptizing a man on his death bed, being with and supporting people and families through death, and the joy of marrying couples.”
 
Wilson said after a life of ministry, Rotary is a natural extension of his desire to reach out to serve others.
 
“With our international background, Rotary’s International Service Committee was a natural fit,” he said. “We have been -- and still are -- active in supporting Corner of Love, bringing medical and dental help to remote areas of North Central Nicaragua.  We have built Habitat for Humanity homes on the Key Peninsula, Tacoma, Arizona, and Montana.  Last year we helped to build two homes in Guatemala.”
 
Midday Club goals for 2018-19
 
Wilson praised the work accomplished by his predecessor, Marilyn Hoppen.
 
“Marilyn has done such a wonderful job as our club president for 2017-2018.  I hope to use her theme of “FUN” to build upon Rotary’s themes for the coming year,” Wilson said.
 
Working with the incoming Midday Club board, the new president said six goals were set for the coming year:
  • Fifth Tuesday social events.
  • More hands-on projects.
  • Club membership diversity: education, understanding, and action.
  • Golferitaville leadership and succession planning.
  • Harbor Hounds possible event expansion.
  • Web Page and social media.
 
“There are, of course, other goals for membership, foundation support and polio support,” Wilson said. “I look forward to developing programs with the board to achieve those goals.”
 
The theme for Rotary this year is “Be the Inspiration.”  Globally Rotary will also use the theme of “People of Action.” 
“Using those goals and themes and working together with the wonderful group of Rotarians in Midday Rotary, I look forward to a great year as we live out ‘Service Above Self’ in our community and world,” Wilson said.