After graduating Escondido High School in 1947 Bob Wilson spent two years studying veterinary medicine at UC Davis before transferring to UCLA. After being initiated as an Epsilon Pi Brother of Sigma Nu in 1950, he joined an Army artillery unit headquartered in Japan during the Korean War, where he spent most of his enlistment managing courts martial. He returned to UCLA two years later to earn a degree in business and marry the love of his life and fellow Bruin, Marion. Following a brief flirtation with law school he joined Coldwell Banker and was associated with that firm for ten years, initially in the mortgage loan department and later in commercial sales.
In 1964 Bob and commercial sales colleague Fred Duckett formed Duckett-Wilson Development Company to build and manage grocery-store anchored neighborhood shopping centers. To date, the company has developed 63 well-placed centers, owning and managing 2.1 million sq. ft. of retail space and managing another 900,000 sq. ft. of non-owned space. Duckett-Wilson also founded the popular Fish Market Restaurants with six locations in California.
While building his career, Bob and Marion raised five sons who along with their wives have given them 14 grandchildren. Through it all the couple remained dedicated to helping their alma mater fulfill its mission of educational excellence and building a legacy through charitable contributions focused on preserving history, strengthening communities, improving education and serving those in need.
Bob and Marion’s support for UCLA has included scholarship funding, endowing a chair in the school of dentistry, funding for on-campus construction projects, and Bob’s chairmanship of the school’s fundraising campaign, which raised a record-setting $3 billion. The impact of their philanthropy is evident across the UCLA campus, most notably in Wilson Plaza, which was dedicated in their name in 2000 in recognition of their longtime generous support for the university. In 2006, they were awarded the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor.
In addition to his impact at UCLA his charitable resume includes service on the American Media Council on Child Abuse; sponsorship of a football stadium for Escondido High School; service as a Trustee on the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Williamsburg Teachers Institute; service on the board of St. John’s Hospital and the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association; and sponsorship of the Constellation School in Moscow. Bob joined the board of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in 1987 where over the next 19 years, he led the effort to fund the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Project, helped sponsor the purchase of and improvements to the Foundation’s headquarters building, and helped establish the Foundation’s endowment. He serves on the board of the American Medical Council on Child Abuse, and has served on many philanthropic and action committees in Los Angeles.