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Wellsboro Gazette, July 27, 1988 State, home town honor [William B.] Wilson By Betty Frazier Blossburg - More often than we should, we take being American too much
for granted and we tend to drift along in an ambivalent state.
Every now and then patriotism needs a shot of adrenalin, a time to
regroup one’s thoughts and dwell on the positive things rather than the
many negative ones which are constantly paraded before us.
Every community needs its shining moment and for Blossburg, Sunday
was it. It was a day to be shared by all Tioga County residents as well.
It was a day of civic pride, one to be celebrated by a generation who,
for the most part, never personally knew the native son who brought such
honor to this almost isolated part of Pennsylvania.
That man was, of course, William B. Wilson - the first U.S. Secretary
of Labor appointed 75 years ago by President Woodrow Wilson [no relation].
Driving into Blossburg on my way to the William B. Wilson American
Legion Post 572 on South Williamson Road, I was pleased to see many American
flags, in itself a tribute to Mr. Wilson.
The Post home is the former residence of William B. Wilson and has
been remodeled so that it little resembles the original home place.
A joyous mood was encountered within the home by the many who crowded
the building to witness the presentation of the Governor Robert B. Casey’s
proclamation honoring Mr. Wilson.
The proclamation was sent to the U.S. Department of Labor on this Diamond
The presentation was made to John Holleman, post commander by another
Blossburg native, A. John Warnecki, who was the guest speaker.
Mr. Warnecki, a member of the U.S. Foreign Service Office and a 44-year
member of the post said, “I feel privileged to be here on such an occasion,
my first time in all the years I have been a member.”
His career has taken him to many parts of the world, but with retirement
he hopes to have time to spend in Blossburg.
Mr. Warnecki said his father was associated with Mr. Wilson politically
when there were only five Democrats in Blossburg, and the two men shared
many of the hardships facing their political party at that time.
He said, “I remember coming with my father to [this house] when Mr.
Wilson lived here and listening to the conversation between these two men.
I always felt I was in the presence of someone special and history has
proven me right.”
Mr. Warnecki added, “We speak about human rights today, equal employment
opportunities, ERA for women, voting rights and the rights of minorities
throughout the nation. Well, Mr. Wilson spent most of his life pounding
away at issues which are referred to today as human rights.
“As I listened to speeches at the Democratic convention with, undoubtedly,
the same topics to be a part of the Republican convention, I was
reminded that these same aspirations echo the views and achievements of
William B. Wilson, 80 years ago.”
The proclamation stated that “the first Secretary of Labor, Wilson
served with distinction and dedication in seeking to improve the condition
of wage earners and promoting harmonious relations between employer
and employee. During World War I, he took charge of mobilizing America’s
Mr. Warnecki added that last week there was “news from Congress which
would have pleased Mr. Wilson, who also had the responsibility following
WWI to help with the adjustment of America’s millions of military personnel
to civilian life.”
He said Congress approved the creation of the Department of Veterans
Affairs effective Jan. 1, 1989. The former Veterans Administration will
be incorporated into the new department of Veterans Affairs and will become
the 14th cabinet post within the office of the President.
Approximately 15 descendents of Mr. Wilson were guests at Sunday’s
ceremonies. One was granddaughter, Margaret [Peg] Jerles of Lock Haven.
She was born in the Wilson homestead and remembers her grandfather well.
“I loved his sense of humor,” she said as she proudly displayed a red,
white and blue ribboned badge complete with inscription, name and picture
of William B. Wilson.
Mrs. Sally Ward wore two hats for the occasion. As Blossburg Secretary-Treasurer,
she was responsible for coordinating the even. At Sr. Vice Commander of
the WBW American Legion Post, she acted as toastmaster.
She introduced Mayor John Kuster, who welcomed the family and admirers
of Mr. Wilson, and State Rep. Edgar Carlson.
Also, she presented borough council members Harold Wilson and Susan
Unganst. James Bogaczyk, council president, was unable to be present, but
welcomed the group through a letter read by Mrs. Ward.
Many American Legion and Auxiliary members and officials from other
posts and districts were present.
Mr. Warnecki, who traveled from his home in Great Falls, Va., has had
extensive diplomatic service and is presently a member of the state department’s
board of examiners.
His most recent overseas assignment was with the American Embassy in
Uruguay. He is leaving next week on assignment in Europe. He also is the
recipient of the department’s Meritorious Honor Award.
Few communities can boast of such a man as William B. Wilson. We seem
to have a tendency to make heroes out of the gunfighters and bank robbers
of a century past.
However, with integrity and dedication there is no need for anyone
to have to stand in the shadow of honorable men such as Mr. Wilson. With
virtues such as his, everyone has the opportunity to make his own shadow,
one to be remembered honorably.