Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 2, 2010

County fair race honors long-time business, civic leader

Dee Wilson remembered as 'pillar in community'

by Dennis Miller

DeWitt Wilson, the long-time Pleasanton businessman and developer, who died earlier this year at the age of 90, was honored at the Alameda County Fair Sunday when the fourth horserace of the day was named in his honor.

The race was named, "In Memory of DeWitt Wilson, Director Emeritus Alameda County Fair," with the highlight being the honoring of his family in the winner's circle following the race. There, his wife of 60 years was presented with flowers before posing for a picture with Russell Baze, the winning jockey in the fourth.

"Dee was a pillar in the community," said long-time friend Tony Macchiano. "He did a lot for the community quietly. He gave a lot of himself and gave a lot monetarily."

Wilson was instrumental in helping Pleasanton and its surrounding cities in a number of ways. He was served on the City Council from 1986 to 1988 and before that was a member of the Pleasanton Planning Commission from 1978-1986. He also served as a BART director from 1973-75 and spent 36 years as an Alameda County Fair director.

"Dee had a lot of old stories about the Fair and the people," said Macchiano. "I think the way the grounds look is a lot of his doing."

He and his wife Shirley gave the Century House in Pleasanton to the city as well as the money to make necessary improvements. He also was part of a three-man group who organized the construction of the new City Council chambers in 1982 without any cost to the city.

Wilson was partners with the late George Spiliotopolous in the Cheese Factory, which had outlets in Pleasanton, Santa Cruz and at the Oakland Airport. Wilson also served on the Board of Directors for the George A. Spiliotopolous Invitational Tournament golf event, an organization which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and has been responsible for over $1 million in college scholarships to graduating Pleasanton high school students.

In addition to everything Wilson did over the years for the city, he was a great person as well. Spend five minutes with him and he made you feel like a life-long friend, those who knew him said.

"He was an all-around good guy," said Macchiano. "He was a giant of a man. He had a way of just meeting someone and getting into a long conversation with them. He was that kind of guy."

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