William K. Wilson, a national and internationally known expert on paper longevity, was born Sept. 15, 1913, in Harrisville, W.V. and earned a Masters Degree in chemistry from West Virginia University in 1938. He worked 14 months at the FBI as a fingerprint classifier, and joined the National Bureau of Standards, which is now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology. There he rose to become Chief of the NBS Paper Section—and began a lifetime involvement with pulp and paper research. His forte was exploring and setting standards for the chemical processing of paper in a manner that would enhance its durability over long periods of time.
He retired in 1975 and worked as a guest worker at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, until his death February 11, 2003, at 89 years of age.
In 1994 he received recognition from the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) along with the Richard S. Hunter prize. In 1989 ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials) bestowed on him its Award of Merit and made him a fellow of ASTM. He has chaired several domestic and international technical committees, traveling extensively. He holds a patent and has published in ASTM and TAPPI journals. In 1995 he published Environmental Guidelines for Storage of Paper and Records—a document that is still being used and requested. He was the U.S. delegate to the ISO Pulp and Paper Committee from 1963 to 1984, and a member of ISO/TC6.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Edith Gallien Wilson, and three children: Dr. Bill Wilson, Rice University, Houston, TX; Dr. Brenda Gillespie, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; and Dr. Jenny Sakamoto, Torrance, CA; three grandchildren, Toji and Anna Sakamoto, and Wil Gillespie. He also leaves many other relatives and friends.