Cover photo for Emily Wilson's Obituary
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Emily Wilson

July 6, 1949 — February 15, 2024

Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson, 74, of Gates Mills, Ohio, passed away on February 15, 2024. Her passing was a sad day for all who knew and loved her. She leaves behind a sister, Susanne (Susie) Erikson and a brother Samuel (Sam) Wilson, along with nephews and a niece, McClure Erikson, Ralph Maier, David Maier and Elizabeth Maier. And not to be forgotten were her cherished circle of friends who completed her life. She also leaves behind her beloved lab Pinky. She was predeceased by her parents John McClure Wilson and Patricia Wellman Wilson as well as her sister Eva Wilson Maier.


Emily grew up in Aurora, Ohio and was a graduate of Laurel School in Shaker Heights, class of 1967. She often commented that Laurel School was an enriching experience that impacted her life, not just academically. She attended Pomona College in California and received her BA degree from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in English from Carnegie-Mellon University. Afterwards, she taught English and creative writing at Pitt. 


Then a few years later, her life and career would soon take a very different turn. You might say the call of the outdoors, always there, took her out of the realm of academia, but never away from her love of teaching. Ultimately it was the love of fly fishing that lead her to a life as an outdoorswoman, and in her words: “Fly fishing was not simply a business. It was a sustaining passion and a business. And starting in those early years, fly fishing, the love and practice of it, was what ultimately took me the longest way round to the shortest way home. I didn’t know it then. What I thought was that I had finally found freedom in wildness.” She was an instructor in all things fly fishing, as well as a guide and owner of the fly shop, Yellow Breeches Outfitters.


After many years of owning Yellow Breeches Outfitters in Boiling Springs, PA, Emily left the business side of fly fishing, but remained avidly connected to the joy of it, the “lure” of being on the water. But eventually another sporting realm beckoned her, field trials. Throughout the years Emily was never without a dog by her side. She had all kinds-from an Afghan hound to a mixed-breed shepherd she found injured and cowering under a slide in a park. Her firm but kind and compassionate training could take an unmanageable beast and turn it into a calm, well behaved friend. She had a special sense in how to connect with them. That ability to train, communicate and connect drew her into the sphere of field trial, mainly in Thomasville, Georgia. In short, field trial is an event where dogs, mostly retrievers, are judged on their style, marking, ability to take directions and retrieving to hand, and when not retrieving, are expected to remain quietly by their handlers side watching the other dogs work. Her labs had success in quite a few events.


After her years of living in Thomasville, Emily returned to a place near and dear to her, Gates Mills, Ohio; a place where she could fish and enjoy the beautiful Chagrin River valley. There she reconnected with Laurel classmates, found a wonderful book club in the Tremont area of Cleveland, took up photography, pickleball and never stopped exploring the world around her, finding new things to pique her ever present curiosity and sharing that passion with her friends. She was kind, courageous and compassionate. We were so lucky to have had her in our lives.


Until her death, Emily was vice president and trustee of the S. K. Wellman Foundation, and moved forward its mission to promote culture and education as well as help those in need in the Cleveland area.


Friends and family are invited to gather to remember and celebrate Emily on Friday, April 26, 2024, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Cleveland Skating Club, 2500 Kemper Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to a charity of one’s choice.


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Celebration of Life

Friday, April 26, 2024

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