Jim Wilson has been named Optimist of the Year by the Huntington Optimist Club.
Wilson, a Marion native, graduated from Richmond High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. He worked in Muncie for four years while studying for his Master of Arts in business and economics.
Wilson came to Huntington in 1968 when he was hired to teach in the business department at Huntington College. He also coached the school's baseball team, earning 12 conference championships and earning NAIA Coach of the Year honors for Area VI in 1974.
Wilson was honored as one of the 100 most influential persons in the college's 100-year history in 1997. He was inducted into the Huntington University Hall of Fame in recognition of his contribution to the school's baseball program.
Wilson started his own business, Wilson Realty & Development, in 1978 and has remained active in the real estate and development business since that time. He developed lots on Canterbury Court, Avon Place and Indian Ridge on the Wabash, all in Huntington.
Wilson has served on the boards of the Red Cross and United Way as well as many committees of his church, Trinity United Methodist. For 20 years, he spearheaded the placement of American flags along Huntington's main streets for the Fourth of July.
He was a founding member of Huntington County Habitat for Humanity and has been involved in fund-raisers for the local Boy Scouts.
He is currently a member of the Huntington University Foundation Board, Lime City Economic Development Board and the Cosmopolitan Club of Huntington. He is also a member of Gideons International and the Huntington Tea Party.
Wilson has served the Optimist Club as president, coordinator of the Clothe-A-Child project and as a volunteer in the Optimist Club's booth at the Forks of the Wabash Pioneer Festival.
Wilson and his wife Gloria are the parents of two adult sons, Todd and Eric.