Obituary: John Henry Wilson, 75

John Henry Wilson, 75, of Southborough, passed away at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, after a battle with ALS, on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 surrounded by his loving family.

He was the beloved husband of Sheila (Maguire) Wilson for over 43 years.

Born in Boston, he was the son of the late Paul and Helen (Fagan) Wilson. John lived nearly his entire life in Southborough, graduating in 1961, the second graduating class of Algonquin Regional High School where he served as class president and star halfback on the first two Algonquin football teams.

John served as an officer in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam. After his time in active duty, he joined the Massachusetts National Guard until retiring in 1992 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, a total of 26 years served in the military. Most recently, he worked as Veterans Services Agent for the town of Southborough and served as Commander of the American Legion Bagley Fay Post 161 and a member of the VFW.

Following his discharge from active duty, John earned a bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s in public administration. John worked 22 years for the Town of Sudbury, initially as a town business administrator and later as finance director for the Sudbury schools. He finished his career at Brown University as a finance administrator in the facilities management department, retiring in 2009. 

From 1984 to 2008, John was elected as the longest-serving Town Moderator in Southborough history as head of the annual town meeting. In addition, John chaired and served on numerous town committees and was actively involved in local political matters. He coached many youth sports teams in Southborough and was an active member of St. Anne Church as well as volunteering as an officer for the town Historical Society. 

An avid golfer, John would venture the world to play his favorite pastime. He enjoyed traveling to California and Prince Edward Island. John also toured extensively around Ireland, playing some of the world’s best links courses, and enjoying the pubs and Irish music.

John’s service to his country and his community are pillars of who he was and how he will be remembered by those who knew him.During his recent struggles with ALS, the outpouring of support from childhood, high school, UMass, Army, National Guard, Sudbury, Brown University, town politics, and many other chapters were a welcome reminder of a man who lived a full and impactful life. John was a man who enjoyed hearing and telling great stories, and that is a legacy that will endure. 

In addition to his wife he is survived by his children, Kara Yuen and her husband Way of Harwich; Thomas A. Wilson and his wife, Amy of CA; his siblings, Peter Wilson and his wife, Eunice of CA; William Wilson and his wife, Elizabeth of Ashland; Elizabeth Martin of Franklin; Patricia Swenson and her husband, Paul of Concord; Ann Wilson of Florence; a grandson, James Maguire Wilson; a sister-in -law, Donna Wilson of ME; a brother-in-law, Leo Maguire of FL; and several nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by a brother, Thomas J. Wilson; and his brother-in-laws, Donald Martin., Joseph, William and Edward Maguire.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday, February 8, from 4 to 7 pm at the Morris Funeral Home, 40 Main Street, Rte 30, Southborough.

A Mass of resurrection will be held on Saturday, February 9, at 12:30 pm at St Anne Church, 20 Boston Road, Southborough.

Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Friends of the Southborough Library, 25 Main Street, Southborough, MA 01772 or Friends of the Southborough Senior Center, 9 Cordaville Road, Southborough, MA 01772.

To leave words of condolence to the family, please visit

(Obituary via Morris Funeral Home)

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4 years ago

John Wilson was one of the nicest men I ever knew, a leader , gentleman, veteran, town official and much more, He told it the way it was, no sugar coating, He was honest as the day is long, whenever asked a question he always had the right answer, and if he didn’t know the answer he would check into it and get it, I remember on occasion he would make a phone call to Washington DC to help his fellow veteran in need. RIP John you will be truly missed in Southborough.

David Coombs
4 years ago

John exemplified the meaning of public service. As the Town Moderator for so many years he led Town Meeting with an impartial approach to every issue, article and speaker, sprinkling in a sense of humor that created the perfect balance between business and the sense of community. His appointments to various committees were balanced and led to new people developing an interest in town government as well as leading many to seek elected office. Later, as the Veterans’ Agent, John put incredible time and effort into helping those who served our country. I hope we as a town honor his memory in a way that will serve as a reminder of his service for generations to come.

Kelly Roney
4 years ago

Losing John Wilson is a huge loss for the town of Southborough. I was blessed to know him just a little. He was always fair and optimistic – a good man. I’m so happy to have known him, and I’m so sorry he’s gone too soon. I’ll miss him.

Jessica Devine
4 years ago

I’m so sad to hear of John’s passing. I did not know him personally, but admired him and all the work he did for the town.

Freddie Gillespie
4 years ago

I am so sad to hear of this. It was my great honor to work collaboratively with John on preserving St. Mark’s Golf Course, (now
Southborough Golf Club). Although he stepped down quite a few tears ago, I still miss him as Moderator of Town Meeting. He was the best and left very big shoes to fill.
The Town of Southborough was better for what John gave to us.

Bill Baker
4 years ago

Rest in peace John you made a difference!
Sheila and family thoughts and prayers from the Bskers.

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