Yale University

In Memoriam

Hoyt Wilson

Hoyt died on September 8, 2013. Below are his obituary and a remembrance by Bill Manuel '64.


September 15, 2013

Hoyt Wilson
1964 graduation

Hoyt Farnsworth Wilson, 71, passed away Sunday, September 8, 2013 at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, following a sudden illness.  He was a longtime resident of the Mann Lake Ranch on the eastern side of Steens Mountain southeast of Burns, Oregon. 

Hoyt grew up in Portland.  He graduated from the Hotchkiss School, a college preparatory school in Lakeville, Connecticut, and then went on to graduate from Yale University in 1964.  In that year, Hoyt and Mary (nee Miller) married at the Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland.  He was attending the graduate business school at the University of Oregon when they moved to the ranch to help Hoyt's parents run the operation.

Hoyt served on the local school board for many years, and was president for a time.  He was also active in the local Farm Bureau, and served on the Steens Mountain Advisory Committee for over 10 years.  He also served for many years on the board of the Package Containers Company of Canby, Oregon.

Hoyt was a steadfast and loyal husband, father, brother, and friend.  He gave pleasure and support to all with his unpretentious presence and ready wit.  His love for his family knew no bounds.  He will be greatly missed.

Hoyt is survived by his wife of 49 years, Mary;  his daughter Katharine "Kali" of Portland; his son Hoyt and Hoyt's wife Dana and their children Kate and Sofia of Bend, Oregon; and his daughter Alexa and Alexa's husband John Maley and their children Eli and Oscar who reside on the Mann Lake Ranch.  He is also survived by his four siblings — Judy Child, Gregg Wilson, Genevieve Laxague, and Mardi Chase — and eleven nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Wilson and Constance Ickes, stepfather Millard Ickes, stepmother Barbara Pooley Wilson, and sister Katharine.

Hoyt's ashes will be returned to Steens Mountain at a later date with the family present.  Contributions can be made to a Harney County charity of one's choice, or to the Oregon Cattlemen Association.

Remembrance by Bill Manuel '64

I met Hoyt on a trip to the west the summer before freshman year.  George Humphrey, who died in 2012, and I drove first to Hoyt's family's place in Warm Springs, Oregon on our way to work for a nickel mine in southwest Oregon.  Hoyt and George had been close friends at Hotchkiss and would be roommates at Yale.  Immediately upon our arrival we joined Hoyt at his job for the family logging operation.  Hoyt and a crew were felling, stripping, and loading pine trees to take to the mill.  You could see that Hoyt thrived in a physically demanding and even perilous world.  Work gloves were needed.  For me it was an adventure.  For Hoyt it was more fundamental.  If a job needed work gloves, it was worthwhile.

That visit to Warm Springs was a special time for me.  Hoyt's family was so welcoming, I began to feel a bond with Oregon.  Two other visits deepened the connection.  I passed through in the late summer of 1963 and then came out for Hoyt's wedding to Mary.

Horgan, Wilson, Manuel, Ruden, Humphrey

We began our Yale experience in a rooming group in Wright Hall that included George Humphrey, Randy Labbe, John Monath, Demi Gibson, Dick Goodyear, and Wally Winter.  Am I forgetting anyone?  It is hard to tell of Hoyt's time at Yale without frequent mention of George.  Hoyt and I both played the guitar, neither with great artistry.  But this was the folk era.  The important thing was the song, not the performance.  Our entry group shared a lot of conversations, weekend celebrations, and quiet times during the three years we were together at Saybrook.

Hoyt and George, 1965

I regret that I saw very little of Hoyt in subsequent years.  His ranch and family were his greatest joy.  I saw him at the service in Cleveland for George a year ago, but all too fleetingly.  Hoyt was a good friend and companion through the Yale years.  I know he was looking forward to participating in the 50th reunion in May.  I wish very much we could have had that time together.

I hope that Mary and their children — Kali, Hoyt Murdoch, and Alexa — are comforted by the certainty that Hoyt lived his life with a special quiet toughness and a dedication to his vision for his ranch for his family and for the larger community.

What if ...

What if you found the right woman at a relatively early stage in life?

What if she felt the same way about you?

What if you knew the right place to settle down, a demanding land but with beauty to spare?

What if you could influence how others perceived you, being tough to the core but not mean?

What if your partner felt the same way about shaping the world?

What if you were blessed with children who thrived in this chosen place?

What if all nearby hung on your every word — OK, let's not overdo it.

What if you decided you could make all this work, and did?

Hoyt, you are missed.