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VERNON K. “TANK” WILSON


Vernon was the youngest son of Aaron C. and Helen Thomas Wilson. His brother, Robert L. Wilson was born February 29, 1932. All predeceased Vernon who passed away on May 1 in his home state of Indiana.  Vernon and Robert were both raised by grandparents, August and Amanda Bohn. Their residence welcomed two boys, aged four and six. Having grown in a German home, both were instilled strong work ethics.  Vernon was a graduate of Bosse High School in Evansville, Indiana class of 1952 and was a class athlete on the football team. The team finished fourth in the state ranking, won the City Championship, and the SIAC Conference which resulted in his selection to All-state honors and being named to the High School All-American Team. Vernon also found success running track, specifically the 100-yard dash in the day of cinder track, as well as throwing the shotput. His athletic success earned college recruitment and a college scholarship. He had earned the name “Tank” and was well known by that nickname during his lifetime.  Vernon enrolled at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green and was a member of the 1952 Refrigerator Bowl team that won over Arkansas State. He played several positions but excelled as a guard. He earned All OVC Champion as a sophomore and in 1955. During his senior season he was Co-Captain, made the All-OVC Team, and defeated Johnny Unitas.  After his junior year of college, he married Patricia F. Coffman of Henderson, KY on February 26, 1955. That summer was spent at Fort Campbell, KY for ROTC Basic training under General Westmorland’s direction.  His 1956 Senior year was not as successful as previous seasons with players leaving and coach illness. The result was having the legendary Mr. E.A. Diddle coach the Western Kentucky football team and play UofL with Leonard Lyles, a memorable experience to say the least!  The summer school session came with a surprise commission to US Army 2nd Lt. and he was not allowed to finish his degree. The military obligation was on delay, so from 1956-57, Tank was the assistant coach at Caldwell County High School in Princeton, KY. He also taught middle school Kentucky History which required much research and creativity.  In June of 1957 he reported to Fort Knox for active duty and Armor School. The assignment was reduced to six months, so he then enrolled at Western Kentucky to complete his bachelor’s degree in 1958 and student teaching certification. Tank majored in Geography-Social Studies and Health & PE and minored in English, K-12.  The next school year was a return to Caldwell County as an assistant coach and as the Elementary P.E. Supervisor. December 5, 1958 brought the birth of their first son, August Kent Wilson. The family moved to Bicknell, Indiana where Tank was the middle school assistant football coach for the 1959-60 classes. The opportunity in Bicknell led to coaching and teaching at Fort Knox High School. This was an extremely rewarding experience and one cherished for the many friends, students, and athletes that really taught what the military life for families must adapt to. 1960 required a move to Radcliff, bought their first house, and their second son, Kelly Wayne Wilson was born June 18, 1961 in Elizabethtown, KY on Father’s Day.  After much persuading, the family moved back to Indiana in 1962 when Tank became the coach of the Castle Knights in Newburgh, Indiana. The challenge was to make football fun and an interest in the community. With only 23 players the team went 5-5. The following season was one of much less, but the guys had a 2-3-4 record, having three tie games in a row.  When the Fort Knox again sought to have a return, the move was to Elizabethtown and some exceptionally good football. Experience was in Jefferson County for three seasons, then Fort Knox again enticed with a job opening with Assistant Principal duties.  Following the tornado that made its path through Brandenburg, a principal was needed, and Vernon was hired. The Wilson family found about the only available house and made Brandenburg home in July 1974. Two sons, both athletes, and two granddaughters, one athlete and one cheerleader, are all graduates of Meade County High School.  Vernon attained his Rank 1 Certification from Spalding College in 1974. He then began working on his doctorate at UofL in the early 1980s, but they did not allow off campus work to complete and due to responsibilities for the school year it remains unfinished.  Both sons, Kent and Kelly have degrees. Kent graduated from WKU in 1980 with an Industrial Tech degree and is employed by Flanders Electric in Evansville. Kelly graduated from UK in 1983 with a Political Science degree and was a member of the ROTC-Air Force. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and does government contracts with Kentucky Defense Service in Covington, KY.  Vernon was a Deacon in the Presbyterian Church. He also served on the board and chaired the board of Humana Southwest Hospital in Louisville, KY from 1992-1996. Vernon was a loving husband of 65 years, great father, a fun Grandpa, and Great-Grandpa to four boys and one girl. A wonderful life!  The family has chosen cremation with Bruington-Jenkins-Sturgeon Funeral Home entrusted with the arrangements. Expressions of sympathy may be made to Meade County High School, Attn: National Honor Society, 938 Old State Road, Brandenburg, KY 40108.  Online condolences may be made at www.bjsfunerals.com.

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