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Earl Wilson, Jr. was born on October 9, 1932, the middle son in a hardscrabble, tight-knit family based in a tenement in Carr Square on the edge of downtown St. Louis. He was, as a scrappy, hard-working, determined boy, the person he would remain as a grown man: a hustler, focused, unrelenting. A planner, a saver and a prankster. Lover of the game, of the pushed button, of the big win, of the bargain. He never meet a boat he didn't mind rocking. He liked controversy, needed challenge, cherished confrontation. He was an original. Most of all and until the end, he was a fighter. Beginning with a shoe shine kit and a Horatio Alger spirit, Earl Wilson's life took on an air of legend, even to those who knew him then: That plan to learn boxing? Ended with Golden Glove championship belts. That shoe shine business? Raised what it took for him to pack his clothes in a cardboard suitcase to enroll at Lincoln University. Those poker and dice games he hosted on campus? Ultimately, they paid the bills. That scheme to sell cigarettes to his classmates? The sales experience helped him land a job selling IBM typewriters to struggling black merchants who didn't need the machines. But those Mom and Pop merchants believed in Earl Wilson, and tenacity, even obstinacy, served him well. He exceeded his sales goals without fail during a 30-year corporate career. He traveled the world and found the familiar far from home. When the time came for an easy retirement, he didn't know 'stop.' He moved home to St. Louis to craft a new life, settling into a house newly built on the lot where that old Carr Square tenement once stood. It was the right time for reinvention and to shift passions. He turned from broadening the workplace and equal opportunity to investing in scrappy, hard-working, determined students who wouldn't otherwise make it to college. He was a mentor and admonished others to reach back to help those following in their footsteps. When the idea for the St. Louis Gateway Classic was born, Earl Wilson matched his determination once more with a void. He was a tactician. Strategy mattered. Faced with a wrong, he pounced. He said he was lucky to have found love twice, lucky to have family nearby and close friends. Fiercely faithful, he fired a beloved nephew more than a dozen times. Days before he died he thanked the nephew for his loyalty, reminding him that he was loved. Countless numbers knew him as a surrogate father, but Earl Wilson was not a teacher. He was a role model. Do as I say, he would say. Take my good points and leave the bad points. We took them all. How could we not? He will be missed. Let him also be remembered. He is survived by his wife Billie Wilson, his four daughters, Denise, Stacey, Theresa and Kimberly, and his five sons, Richard, Mark, Michael, David and Bill; his siblings Leroy Sr., Yola Mae, Irene and Charles Sr.; nieces and nephews Leroy Jr., Dannie Jean, Stewart, Leelee, Virginia, Gregory, Arthur, Pier, Sidney, Margie, Deborah, Vanessa, Charles, Frank, Karen Theodore and Yolonda; grandchildren Dawn, Marche', Nicole, Jacenta, Mia, Timothy and Austin; and great-grandchildren, Madison and Gray. This Online Memorial has been created to commemorate the life of Earl Wilson Jr. You are invited to add a Tribute in his memory. Please click "Sign Guestbook" below to add your own memories, reflections, thoughts or condolences.

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