James D. (Jim) Wilson grew up on a wheat and cattle farm 9 miles east of Kiowa, Kansas. He attended a two-room country school in Corwin, Kansas through the eighth grade. He graduated from Kiowa High School where he played football, basketball, was a member of band and chorus, participated in school plays and was on the forensics team.
During his time on the farm, Wilson helped his Dad with conservation practices to conserve the land. As a result of their efforts, the family farm received the Kansas Bankers Conservation Award in 1970. While in high school and college, Wilson rented a little land of his own, and he and his brother operated a custom hay hauling business.
Wilson chose to attend Southwestern College in Winfield KS to pursue his college education. He was a 4-year letterman in basketball and a 3-year letterman on the track squad that won KCAC titles ’65, ’66, and ’67. He was the KCAC Conference High Jump Champion in 1966. Wilson was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Treasurer of the Student Government, a member of the Chapel Hour Choir, the Student Activities Association, the Student Judiciary, and was President of Pi Epsilon Pi. He graduated in 1967 with a BA degree in Social Studies/History and PE. — the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
Wilson’s career as an educator has spanned over 4 decades and 2 states. His first position was a government and history teacher and coach. His career grew to include being an Athletic Director, a Secondary Counselor, a Jr/Sr High Principal and a Superintendent. He also officiated football and basketball for 14 and 12 years respectively. Highlights of Wilson’s Kansas career include: Kansas Rural and Small Schools Administrator of the Year, twice recognized as a Master Teacher, Who’s Who in AASA’s Educational Administration, President of the Kansas School Counselor’s Association, President of the Kansas City Public Television ITV Consortium and Chairman of Channel 19 Public Television Board of Directors.
After moving back to Kiowa, Wilson took over the 1,120 acre family farm in addition to his educational duties. After 24 years in education, Wilson moved to Colorado where he served as a Superintendent of Schools for 16 years in 3 school districts.
Highlights of his years in Colorado include: the Colbert Cushing Award for outstanding service to his professional organization, President of the Colorado Association of School Executives, President of the Colorado School Superintendent’s group for two terms, 11 years on the CASE Coordinating Council, Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans, Colorado High School Activities Association Executive Board, and State of Colorado’s Educational Technology Plan Task Force.
Wilson also created and developed an award in honor of his father called the Demont Award Recognition Program (recognizing Rural and Small School administrators who leave it better than they found it). In April 2012, Wilson was inducted into the Southwestern College Educators Hall of Fame.
Wilson’s involvement in education spread beyond the states of Kansas and Colorado. He served two terms on the American Association of School Administrator’s National Governing Board and continues to serve as the AASA Executive Consultant for Rural and Small Schools. Wilson has traveled to Washington on numerous occasions representing various organizations and lobbying for important Colorado issues. He has also traveled extensively as a speaker and entertainer. He has been a featured presenter at the AASA National Conference on multiple occasions. His entertaining persona of The Colorado Cowboy has taken him to 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Wilson and his wife Kristi of 35 amazing years (also a retired educator and administrator) continue to reside in Salida Colorado. They have 4 beautiful daughters (inside and out), 2 great sons-in-law and 5 of the cutest and best grand kids!!!
Wilson volunteers his time and serves his community in many ways. He is an elder in his church and teaches the adult Bible class. He is an active member of The Salida Rotary Club. He volunteers as an auctioneer for the Heart of the Rockies Hospital Foundation, the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse and the Boys and Girls Club of Chaffee County. He makes guest presentations to the third grade classes on The Oregon Trail. He has enjoyed being the basketball play-by-play announcer for Chaffee County on local radio and has been one of the floor announcers for the 3A State Basketball Tournament.
In his spare time, Wilson enjoys hunting with both gun and bow, which usually involves his mules hauling him and his camp to the high country. He also enjoys fishing and vegetable gardening. He and Kristi bought a small fishing boat so they can enjoy cruising around our beautiful lakes. Their main garden crops are corn and green beans which are frozen and canned respectively so that they have plenty of veggies and wild game for the winter.