Gary Wilson

By on September 5, 2013

Gary Wilson, 69, of Batavia, formerly of Sugar Grove and owner of the Yankee Clipper Barber Shop in Oswego, passed away surrounded by the love and prayers of his family following a brief but fierce illness, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

He was a Christmas baby, blessing his family in 1943 in Aurora, the son of Carter Glidden and Catherine Rose (Greiter) Wilson. He was known to jokingly say that two important people were born on that day and he wasn’t always sure which one was greater.

Gary grew up in Sugar Grove and attended local schools. He graduated from Kaneland High School in 1961, where he proudly sang with a quartet known as the “Checkertones,” complete with red and white checked ties, who eventually became state champions. Throughout his years and beyond, Gary proudly wore the nickname “Hop” due to his love of Hopalong Cassidy. Following graduation, Gary went to barber college in Chicago and found something that not only was he very good at, but something he loved to do, as well.

In 1962, a certain young lady was enrolled in Copley School of Nursing, which was “The Place” for Kaneland boys to pick up cute girls. Kathleen “Kathi” Olson was set up with Gary so she could talk up her girlfriend, but after that first date, Gary and Kathi knew without a doubt there was something special in the air. They were eventually united in marriage on April 4, 1964, at St. Gall Catholic Church in Elburn.

The newlyweds first lived in Kaneville for a brief time, but for Gary, “home” was Sugar Grove. They made their home on both the east and west sides, welcoming home three beautiful girls: Julie, Karin and Molly. In 1996, Gary and Kathi downsized after the girls left home, building a home in Batavia with the caveat that he would get his morning coffee in Sugar Grove on his way to work in Oswego.

Gary loved his job and made many special friends over the years. Gary always felt at home behind a barber chair. No matter where he worked—from brief stints in Batavia, Elburn and Sugar Grove before becoming his own boss at Yankee Clipper Barber Shop for over 30 years in Oswego—Gary loved his job and made many special friends over the years. Gary also was a school bus driver in the morning for Kaneland School District for over 20 years. Gary was far from putting down his shears until a diagnosis of cancer brought retirement to his door.

Above all else was Gary’s love for his family. He was the proudest father and grandfather you could find. Gary’s grandchildren were the apple of his eye, and Gary was the first one to support and cheer them on in all their activities. He was taken too soon, but not before his indelible mark was left on the hearts of all who knew and loved him.

He is survived by his loving wife, Kathi Wilson; three daughters, Julie (Mark) Harrington, Karin (Scott) Herwick and Molly (John) Nelson; five grandchildren, Emily Harrington, Ben Harrington, Andrew Nelson, Anna Nelson and Ryan Herwick; four siblings, Bob (Sylvia) Wilson, Sharon (Don) Henderson, Dianne (Bill) Rissman Mason and Melodee (Mike) Probst; two sisters-in-law, Carolyn (Arlyn) Lund and Mary (John) Coon; many nieces and nephews; Max, his dog and constant companion for the last 17 years; and a countryside full of friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Carter and Catherine; one brother-in-law, Darryl Rissman; sister-in-law, Marjorie Faltz Wilson; and his mother- and father in-law, Kenneth and Lorraine Olson.

Visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. A funeral to celebrate his life will take place on Friday, Sept. 6, at 11 a.m., also at the funeral home. Interment will follow at River Hills Cemetery, Batavia.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Gary’s name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Gary Wilson Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at, where you can find his full-life story.