Leda Amick Wilson, 84, professor of family studies at College Park

February 09, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Leda Amick Wilson, a retired professor in family studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, died of a stroke Feb. 2 at Laurel Regional Hospital. She was 84.

Dr. Wilson earned her bachelor's degree from Lander College in Greenwood, S.C., and was the first woman accepted in the doctoral program at the University of Tennessee and the first to receive a Ph.D from the university.

"Her example made me proud and self-supportive," said her daughter, Joan Amick Wilson of Laurel. "She gave me a lot of ambition."

Born Leda Amick, she was raised in Lexington, S.C. While at the University of Tennessee, she met her husband, Jack Wilson, a World War II captain in the Army Air Forces. The couple, who were married 47 years, moved to Maryland in the 1950s, and he began a career with the federal government. He survives her.

Before coming to the University of Maryland, Dr. Wilson was chairwoman of the home economics departments at Georgia State College for Women and Columbia College in South Carolina.

At College Park, where she taught for more than 30 years, she helped to establish one of the first undergraduate curricula in family studies in the United States, as well as a master's program in home economics.

"She was a leader on the faculty and developed many programs," said Martha L. Garrison, a former university colleague. "She was a teacher, mentor and friend. She was always available as a counselor. You knew if you came to her, you would leave with commonsense directions."

One of Dr. Wilson's favorite classes, and one of the most popular with new students, was an introduction to family life studies.

"She often taught 100 students at a time and helped them to find out who they were in the first year of college," said Mrs. Garrison, who taught family finance until her retirement. "She insisted on a research paper every week from them."

Roger Rubin, acting chairman of the family studies department at the university, worked with Dr. Wilson for more than 15 years.

"She was an outstanding and devoted teacher and adviser," Dr. Rubin said. "It would be no exaggeration to say she is known by thousands of students across the state. Years after her retirement, students still call and ask how she is and what she is doing."

The University of Maryland named an advisory award for Dr. Wilson and established a graduate fellowship in her name three years ago "as a sign of our respect for her legacy," Dr. Rubin said.

"She blazed trails, especially for women," he said.

After her retirement in 1988, Dr. Wilson moved to Hidden River Farm in Laurel, a horse-breeding operation run by her daughter.

"My mother loved the mares and the babies," said Ms. Wilson. "She would feed them and turn them out to pasture. I think she was truly interested in everything she did. She would put her whole life and thought into it."

The family is planning a memorial service.

In addition to her husband and daughter, she is survived by a sister, Myrtle Kyzer of South Carolina.

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