Volunteer EMT died from head injury
Date: Saturday, March 13 @ 00:00:30
Topic Our Towns

One of Salem's best-known residents was laid to rest Friday with an honor guard of firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers.

Hundreds of residents attended the funeral of Jay Lee Wilson, 63. Wilson died Monday following a head injury he suffered on Feb.
12 when he fell from a ladder he was using to remove ice from the roof of his home.

Bishop J. Wayne Francis of the Salem Seventh Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Wilson would be remembered for founding the city's volunteer ambulance association and his work to help the city buy its first ambulance, as well as more than 20 years of service as a volunteer firefighter. Wilson also was a volunteer EMT and EMT instructor and was honored as Salem EMT of the Year in 2002.

Wilson also was famous for his almost daily walks about the city.

"We all know how my dad liked to walk," Mindy Lemon said at the funeral. "He walked and walked and walked. One friend told me that her children had his walks timed and they would wait by the window and as he approached they would wave and bang on the window and shout 'Jay! Jay!' and of course he would wave back with his big grandpa smile."

Service was Wilson's way of living a Christlike life, she said.

"He never let anyone go unhelped," she said. "He saw a need and he provided; he saw a void and he filled it. My dad loved all people."

Son Jeff Wilson said his father was his hero.

"Every boy needs a hero and my dad was mine," he said. "He was always there for me, and he never looked down on me no matter what I did. I remember he took me fishing on his shoulders when I was a kid, and I caught this humongous fish and he wanted to stuff it. But I dropped it on the rocks and he went down to get it and messed up his knee and we still lost the fish, but he was so excited."

Family friend Brad Gordon called Wilson a patriot and family man with a legacy to be proud of.

"He was absolutely the greatest man who walked this earth to me," Gordon said. "We felt his love, strength and encouragement. We needed that. We will miss those great walks around the neighborhood."

Gordon joked about Wilson's love for Brigham Young University sports.

"The only time he wouldn't talk to you was when there was a BYU game on," he said, smiling. "You just knew that you weren't that important that day."

Gordon recalled that for LDS Church primary activities, the kids would gather in a local park and Wilson would borrow a fire truck from the city.

"He would take the fire truck to the park and spray that water in a rainbow arc so that you could see the rainbow in the mist," he said. "And then he would get everybody wet, the leaders and the children, and then pretty soon they would all be on his back trying to get him wet. He loved it."

Wilson gave of his time, talent and money to help others, he said.

"He even spent time away from his wife and family to help this community," Gordon said. "He was a great example to each and every one of us and he truly understood that you love those you serve. If there is anything that comes of this tribute to Jay Wilson today, I hope every one of us will go home and be a better person. We don't have Jay to cover for us anymore. Jay's life was just like the Savior's, and we need to follow his example."