Stanley P. Wilson grew up on a row-crop and livestock farm in the small community of Dixie, Alabama, in Escambia County. Wilson was active in 4-H, showing calves and participating in crop and dairy projects. This involvement, along with his mother’s unrelenting push for education for her children, led him to Alabama Polytechnic Institute after graduating from T.R. Miller High School. Only the second member of his family to go to college, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences in 1953.
Following two years in the U.S. Army, Wilson returned to API and received a master’s degree in animal sciences in 1958. He earned his doctoral degree in animal genetics from Oklahoma State University in 1961.
Wilson then began work at Purdue University for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, where he worked 14 years. The last seven of his years at Purdue were spent serving as the director of the Pioneering Research Laboratory in Quantitative Genetics. During that time, Wilson published extensively, including two invitational papers at the National Breeder’s Roundtable in Kansas City, Missouri; a plenary session invitational paper at the first World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production in Madrid, Spain; and an invitational paper at the International Genetics Congress in Tokyo. In addition, he was invited to Oregon State University as a Bogart Visiting Lecturer in Quantitative Genetics.
In 1975, Wilson returned to Auburn as assistant dean and associate director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and in 1980 was appointed the university’s vice president for agriculture, home economics and veterinary medicine.
Among his many contributions to Auburn University and its agricultural programs were the culture of excellence and accountability Wilson established. Leaving the university at the end of 1984, he went on to serve as executive vice president of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. He also operated a farm, raising purebred Angus cattle until his retirement in 2001. Upon retirement, Wilson donated 42 head of Angus cattle and all his equipment to the College of Agriculture’s new beef teaching unit, which the university named in his honor.
Wilson and his wife of 62 years, Barbara, chose to retire in Auburn. They have two children, Michael and Daniel, and four grandchildren.