There aren’t many people I wish to do obituaries for, but David Wilson deserves one. A former antique dealer and restorer and most certainly a cussed fellow at times, he was always straightforward to the point of orneriness. He adored the antiques trade and the majority of the people in it. When Christopher Mason was writing his exposes on John Hobbs, David had no problem saying what he thought about the furniture he had seen that Hobbs had sold. He also defended antique dealers that he felt were honest and hardworking. As a restorer, he well understood that not every piece was perfection. In his words, almost every piece needed a little “wilsonizing”.
David once gave me a bid on a barometer at Stair Galleries in Hudson. He faxed me the lot number and the amount he was willing to spend. When I got to the sale, the lot number he gave me was not a barometer. However, there was a barometer three or four lots earlier and I bought it for well under the $1,500 limit he gave me. When he got to the sale, I showed him his successful bid and he looked at me, deadpan, “that wasn’t the lot I wanted”. I showed him his fax, however, and the look on his face was absolutely priceless. I was laughing for the rest of the sale.
The equanimity that David showed in the face of his illness was extraordinary. Two operations to remove cancers, one from his lymph nodes and one from his lung, two radiation and chemotherapy treatments, not to mention the diabetes that he suffered, and never a word of complaint. I saw him eight days ago, swollen from edema, clearly uncomfortable but in good spirits. He died yesterday, an exemplar of courage, a man who lived every day as if it was his last.