November 18, 2002
Wilsons receive Churchill Bell award
Bob and Marion Wilson, residents of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and long-standing supporters of Colonial Williamsburg, received the prestigious Colonial Williamsburg Churchill Bell Award, the foundation’s highest recognition of leadership, service and philanthropic support, at a special ceremony Saturday, Oct. 5. The ceremony followed the fall meeting of the Raleigh Tavern Society, Oct. 3-5, where 180 of the foundation’s top donors met to receive an update on Colonial Williamsburg’s programs, projects and activities.
The Churchill Bell, in the shape of a town crier’s bell, symbolizes the need for vigilance in guarding liberty. It is given in recognition of those whose unparalleled service and generosity have helped preserve Colonial Williamsburg as a symbol of liberty for future generations. The prestigious award was first presented at a ceremony held Dec. 7, 1955, in London’s historic Drapers’ Hall by then-Colonial Williamsburg Chairman Winthrop Rockefeller to former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill for his many contributions in the struggle for freedom.
“For 20 years, Bob and Marion Wilson have committed themselves to Colonial Williamsburg and its educational mission,” said Colonial Williamsburg President and Chairman Colin G. Campbell. “Their extraordinary generosity serves as an inspiration to us all, and we are proud to count them among the Churchill Bell recipients whose love of this place has compelled them to assume the mantle of philanthropic stewardship.”
On Oct. 3, the Wilsons were recognized in another special ceremony dedicating the Robert and Marion Wilson Group Arrivals Building. The conversion and renovation of the old Woodlands Motel check-in building into an expanded and modern facility will serve to welcome and orient both adult and student groups visiting Colonial Williamsburg.
The Wilsons are founding sponsors of the Teacher Institute, which has enabled more than 3,000 teachers (including 1,000 from California) to participate in this on-site educational program at Colonial Williamsburg. Their contributions to the foundation have totaled more than $5 million for a host of projects including the Teacher Institute, funding for the character interpretation of Thomas Jefferson, restoration of the film “Williamsburg: The Story of A Patriot,” and funding for museums acquisitions including the important collection of 17th-century maps known as the Custis Atlas, currently on display at the New-York Historical Society as part of the foundation’s traveling map exhibition “Degrees of Latitude.”
“Williamsburg is just as relevant for our world today as it was in the 18th century because of the values of freedom and equality which it continues to teach,” said Mr. Wilson. “It is a vital living community dedicated to reflect how our nation in its infancy struggled and fought for what we in the 21st century too often take for granted. Williamsburg must be preserved and it is incumbent upon each of us to accept that responsibility.”
Mr. Wilson is co-chair of the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg and served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1993-99. Both he and Mrs. Wilson are members of the Raleigh Tavern Society, the foundation’s leading donor group, and the Colonial Williamsburg National Council, a volunteer board that advises Colonial Williamsburg on philanthropic and other foundation issues.
Currently, Mr. Wilson is chairman of Duckett-Wilson Development Co., a firm that develops service-oriented shopping centers in California and Colorado. In addition, he is co-owner of the Fish Market restaurants with locations in California and Arizona. Mrs. Wilson is a homemaker and certified interior designer. Both she and her husband hold bachelor’s degrees from UCLA, where Mr. Wilson is co-chairman of Campaign UCLA.