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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 73, Number 4 (Feb. 1972)

Red Wilson visited,   pp. 6-7


Page 6


RED WILSON REVISITED
n interviewer looking for hot copy
     would throw away his Bic about
three minutes into a session with Red
Wilson. Even Howard Cosell, the
nabob of noise, would probably run
out of decibels shortly after covering
Bob's 10 years as a catcher for the
White Sox and Detroit, a decade for
which he earned a .258 batting aver-
age via 455 hits in 1,763 at-bats in
610 games. Oh, maybe Cosell could
stay hysterical for a while longer,
talking about Wilson's UW football
career in which he won the Big Ten
MVP award as an end in 1949 (his
senior year when he captained the
team), and for which he practiced by
taking team MVP honors as center
for two previous seasons along with
a 1947 all-conference citation while
he led the baseball team in batting
with .342 and .426 in '48 and '49.
But after that, Howard baby, you're
out of work.
   Bob Wilson speaks softly and de-
liberately, is not mad at anyone, and
probably the last person who heard
him cuss made him stay in at recess
to clean the blackboards. In short,
the only thing colorful about him is
his hair, and it's getting so you have
to jump to see much of that. He isn't
much fun for the Cosells of the
world.
   On the other hand, several thou-
sand people from Wilson's past and
present think that he is just fine the
way he is. If he comes on more like
a bank president than a jock it is
because he is the former now, and
never sounded like the latter anyway.
He is also the 1971-72 president of
Wisconsin Alumni Association, a spot
which, if it does not exactly require
a hot-line to Henry Kissinger, does
demand that its holder be gifted with
dignity and intelligence, objectivity,
dedication and sometimes an asbestos
ear. It is because Wilson has these
attributes in spades that we're talk-
ing about him here.
  We interviewed Red at the West-
gate Bank over which he has pre-
sided since they built it 21/½ years
ago on not-quite-abandoned farmland
on Madison's far west side. The bank
is low and brick, with lots of drive-in
windows from which, if a teller
reached out far enough, she could
use a silo wall for an emery board.
Inside, it is quiet and open and
friendly. Bob's office is a glass box
in one corner, sans trophies but with
a woodsy watercolor and photos of
Vera, his wife of 22 years, their 19-
year-old son who is now in the Air
Force, their daughter-a senior at
West High, and their five-year-old
boy. Color: Bob offered us a Certs.
   We asked him what he thought of
the recent University merger. "At
the moment I don't have any strong
feelings one way or the other. I think
it's an evolutionary period which hope-
fully could result in an even greater
University. One measure of its suc-
cess or failure will continue to be the
attitude of the students themselves;
their feelings. So far they're still very
much interested in going to Wiscon-
sin. They know it's a challenge-a
great school. When they graduate
they can take a lot of pride in having
got through four tough years here.
I think that as long as they react this
way, we're in the right direction."
   The kids themselves? "I have a
lot of confidence in them. I think
they're going to come out with the
values we need. From time to time
their emphasis has been sidetracked
from education onto other things
about which they're concerned. Now
I think there's a re-emphasis on get-
ting the education first, as a solid base
from which to do a better job of
solving the other problems that bother
them."
  Wilson graduated in 1951, an in-
surance major. He recalls former
Commerce Professor Frank Graner
as his most effective instructor, and
this observation led him to say that
today maybe it's harder for students
to see enough of all their profs to
choose a favorite. "There has been
a decided movement towards research
and other activities that generate dol-
lars in the form of grants and things.
This seems to have moved some of
the faculty closer to this outside
money than to working on lessons
and lectures." He doesn't see this as
completely avaricious, however. "Cer-
tainly it's most satisfying to be in a
position to help people, including
help by off-campus consulting work.
But an institution should lay down
some ground rules, or the students
suffer. Maybe, today, some of them
are being shortchanged."
   Some students and parents from
out of state are fairly unhappy about
enrollment quotas. But "I think there
have been some decided inequities
prior to the limitations. Sure, it's un-
fortunate for those out-of-state stu-
dents who want to come here but are
met head-on by restrictions. But on
the other hand, they should voice
their feelings against their own states
which, apparently, aren't providing
them with the kind of educational
institutions they want."
   Athletics: "I think the situation
here is just great. Elroy has done an
outstanding job, along with support
from the alumni. The direction We're
moving in is so good! There's more
to be done, of course, but we'll do
it." One thing that might be done,
Red feels, is accomplishment of the
sought-after permission for the Pack-
ers to play at Camp Randall on oc-
casion. "I think one or two Packer
games here each season would be
healthy for them and for us."
  Does he see any unhealthy trends
in the Minnesota basketball team's
recent physical attack on Ohio
State's? "I think you'll find there have
been riots and conflagrations on the
field of sports ever since sport was
recorded. I don't want to minimize
how bad I think it is, but it looks to
me like an individual problem. No, it
Wisconsin Alumnus
6


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