Jay Michael Wilson was born at Fort Wainwright Army Hospital near Fairbanks, Alaska, on June 14, 1964, to Jim and Peggy Wilson and big sister, Karrie.
Jay passed away at 7:23 a.m. on July 23, 2012, after a year-long battle with brain cancer. He died peacefully at his sister's home in Hagerman, surrounded by his loving wife and family.
Since Jay's father was in the Air Force, Jay grew up moving often to various bases across the U.S. and even in Okinawa. When they were in Okinawa, Jay and Karrie loved to pull their wagon around and gather all the lizards they could find; it didn't take long to have the wagon full. Jay was always a curious little boy; his ability to create and design intricate Lego creations and GI Joe forts later led to a successful career as a mechanical engineer.
Jay attended junior high and high school at Rimrock High School in Grand View. He played football and basketball, but his passion was in his leather work. Jay built a workbench in his bedroom and would spend hours working on his projects, which ranged from belts and wallets, to beautiful sceneries on a slab of tanned leather. Many of Jay's creations were done freehand with no pattern. Jay was very artistic and could draw detailed pictures, but was especially good at cartoons. His keen sense of humor and intelligent wit caused his family to think he might just become a cartoonist some day.
After graduating from high school in 1982, Jay loaded up his blue 1961 Chevy Apache pickup truck and headed off to New Jersey to attend an outdoor survival school. He would be gone for two years on many adventures, which included working in New York at a leather shop owned by "Chip & Dale," ex Hells Angels. Jay loved his job creating projects for customers; some were custom designs like attaché cases for business people.
Jay came back west and spent the next few years working with a friend in Spokane, Wash., and Oceanside, Calif., cleaning parking lots and painting the lines, too.
Jay attended Mira Costa College in Oceanside, tutored students in calculus, trigonometry, and physics, and earned his associates degree. Jay was named the recipient of a Medal of Honor for top academics.
He also worked at a sheet metal fabrication shop and cleaned/painted parking lots at night. He transferred to UC Davis, California, so he could get his mechanical engineering degree while working in the Department of Microbiology.
While at UC Davis, Jay met the love of his life, Akie Yokoi, from Japan; she was also a student.
After graduation, Jay was hired by Campbell Soup Company in Modesto, Calif., and he and Akie got married and began a beautiful life together. They were transferred to Fayetteville, Ark., where Jay worked for Campbell's while he earned his master's degree. Jay and Akie lived there for 10 years, enjoying many different activities together like hiking and canoeing. They loved traveling to Japan every couple of years to spend time with Akie's family. Jay thoroughly enjoyed the Japanese culture and especially the food; he was always willing to try anything. He learned a lot of Japanese words, so he and Akie had fun conversations that switched back and forth from English to Japanese.
Jay transferred again to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to work at the Campbell's headquarters. He travelled to other plants as a project manager to oversee improvements and repairs. Jay was an amazing problem solver, and he was great to work with.
Jay has always been the most honorable, loyal and gentle man around. He spent time playing with his nephews and nieces, and they loved him so much. Whether he was wrestling with them, reading a book, or sitting and building something with Legos, Jay was very patient and kind. He treated everyone with the utmost respect and was the best listener.
After Jay's diagnosis with brain cancer in July 2011, he handled every treatment with dignity. He had surgery on Aug. 2, 2011, and began radiation and chemo four weeks later. Jay never complained or wondered, "Why me?"
Akie has been a devoted wife who was by Jay's side every step of the way. She and Jay researched alternative methods to alleviate nausea and what foods to eat that would help keep his platelets up so chemo would not be delayed, and they worked hard to manage his seizures.
Jay was able to go back to work full time in January after being told by doctors that it would be at least a year. Whatever Jay puts his mind to, he accomplishes.
When his niece, Lynlea, set her wedding date for July 7, 2012, Jay was determined to attend. He made the long trip to Idaho and sat in the front row at the church, snapping pictures during the entire ceremony. Jay always joked that Lynlea looked more like he and Akie's daughter.
Jay was able to spend time with family and that brought him much joy. They decided to stay in Idaho so that he and Akie would be surrounded by family and friends as his battle with cancer ended.
Even to the end, Jay was gentle, kind, and appreciative. His smile was beautiful.
Jay is survived by: his devoted wife, Akie; his parents, Jim and Peggy Wilson of Whitehall, Mont.; his sister, Karrie (Jeff) Jayo of Hagerman; his nephews, Ryan (Mindy) Jayo of Peru, Ill., and Nathan (Sari) Jayo of Twin Falls; his niece, Lynlea (Rex) Hart of Bozeman, Mont.; his great-nieces, Ella Hobbs, Iris Jayo and Madelynn Jayo.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice Visions at 1770 Park View Dr., Twin Falls, ID 83301, or The National Brain Tumor Society at braintumor.org.
A memorial service will be held at Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel, on Thursday, July 26, 2012, at 2 p.m.